The Commerce Department of US federal govt. said on Wednesday that an 18.8 per cent jump in the trade deficit in December had contributed to the $621.0 billion shortfall last year. The 2018 deficit was the largest since 2008 and followed a $552.3 billion gap in 2017.
The US trade deficit surged to a 10-year high in 2018, with shortfall with China hitting a record spike, despite the Trump administration slapping tariffs on a range of imported goods in an effort to contract the gap.
The United States, last year, imposed tariffs on $250 billion worth of goods imported from China, with Beijing hitting back with duties on $110 billion worth of American products. Mr Trump has delayed tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports as negotiations to resolve the eight-month trade war continue.
The government reported last week that trade subtracted 0.22 percentage point from GDP growth in the fourth quarter. The economy grew at a 2.6% annualised rate in the October-December quarter, slowing from the third quarter's brisk 3.4% pace.
Other data on Wednesday suggested some slowing in the labour market, though the pace of job gains remains more than enough to drive the unemployment rate down.