The Commerce Department said Friday that the U.S. trade gap in goods and services climbed 5.2 percent to $47.6bn in April from March. Exports dropped 0.3 percent to $191bn, pulled down by a drop in automotive exports. Imports rose 0.8 percent to $238.6bn as Americans bought more foreign-made cellphones and other consumer goods.
A widening trade deficit is a drag on economic growth. President Trump made the trade gap — the difference between exports and imports — a centerpiece of his campaign for the White House. His administration has vowed to reduce the deficit, blaming it on abusive practices by America's trading partners.
The deficit in goods with China rose by 12.4 percent to $27.6bn in April.
So far this year, the trade deficit is up 13.4 percent from a year earlier, to $186.6bn. Exports are up 6.1 percent to $765.6bn this year, but imports are up more — 7.5 percent to $952.2bn. So far in 2017, the United States is running a $268.7bn deficit in goods and an $82.1bn surplus in services such as banking and tourism.
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