WASHINGTON – The US trade deficit rose to $566.6 billion in 2017, up 12.1 percent from 2016 and the highest level in nine years, Commerce Department said Tuesday.
In December, the deficit increased by 5.3 percent to $53.1 billion and was higher than economists’ forecasts of $52 billion.
Last year, exports grew 5.5 percent, while imports rose 6.7 percent.
Over the past year, the US trade deficit with China hit a record $375 billion, while the trade deficit with Mexico increased to $71 billion.
President Donald Trump, both in his 2016 campaign and since taking office, has accused China and Mexico of engaging in unfair trade practices and vowed to trim the deficit by imposing protectionist measures.
The United States is renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which took effect in 1994, with Mexico and Canada.
Analysts say the trade deficit is a result of the US economy’s good performance, since in times of prosperity American consumers tend to increase their demand for foreign products.