US imports hit record levels despite protectionist policies

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Washington, Nov 3 (IANS) The US trade deficit increased last September by 1.3 per cent to reach $54 billion, inflated by a historic volume of imports that rose to $266.6 billion despite the protectionist policies of the White House, according to the Department of Commerce.

That result was worse than in August, when the trade balance showed a deficit of $53.2 billion following a 6.4 per cent rise, and was also slightly worse than analysts’ forecast of a $53.3 billion deficit in September, Efe news quoted the Department as saying on Friday.

The volume of imports eroded the positive effect of an export increase of $212.6 billion, which was $3.1 billion more than in August.

The balance was negative for goods, which had a deficit of $77.226 billion, while services showed a surplus of $23.207 billion, the Department said.

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These figures imply an obvious setback for the protectionist policies of President Donald Trump, since Washington has not been able to profit as expected from the tariffs on steel and aluminium that the US began to impose last March.

Nor do the various tariffs levied by the White House on China seem to be paying off as expected.

In fact, the trade balance with the Asian giant showed a historic deficit in September at $40.243 billion. And so far this year, the deficit does not favour the Trump government as it stands at $301.368 billion.

China, when hit by US tariffs, has slapped its own tariffs on US goods, and even complained about the American policy to the World Trade Organisation (WTO).

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Faced with a lack of results from his protectionist measures, the White House nonetheless has reasons to be optimistic about its trade relations with its partners in the new US-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which substitutes the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), in force since 1994.

The balance with its neighbour to the north remains unfavourable, though it was reduced from $2.605 billion in August to $1.810 billion in September.

With Mexico the numbers are slightly better, since last September’s deficit amounted to $7.714 billion, compared with $8.692 billion the month before.

With the European Union, the balance continues to be unfavourable for the North Americans, though the deficit has shrunk considerably, from $15.708 billion in August to $10.656 billion in September, for a total deficit of $121.506 billion so far this year.

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With Central and South America, the balance was positive for the US, with a surplus of $3.220 billion in September, compared with $3.093 billion the month before

The most notable result was with Brazil, where the US surplus practically doubled in just one month, from $366 billion in August to $724 billion in September.

US trade also showed surpluses with Argentina ($433 million), Chile ($387 million) and Colombia ($290 million).



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