US trade deficit fell in May as exports hit 2-year high

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. trade deficit narrowed in May, and the politically sensitive trade gap with China also slid.

The Commerce Department said Thursday that the U.S. deficit in the trade of goods and services fell 2.2 percent in May to a seasonally adjusted $46.5 billion. U.S. exports rose modestly to $192 billion — the highest level since April 2015 — on rising shipments of cars and consumer goods, including cellphones. Imports fell slightly.

President Donald Trump has vowed to reduce America’s trade deficits — the difference between exports and imports — blaming them on bad trade deals and abusive practices by U.S. trading partners, particularly China. His administration also is preparing to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico to overhaul a trade pact he’s called a “disaster” for American workers.

The deficit in goods with China fell by 6.2 percent to a seasonally adjusted $30.1 billion. The gap with Mexico rose by 5.6 percent to $6.8 billion.

Despite the dip in May, the overall U.S. trade deficit is up 13.1 percent so far this year to $233.1 billion. Exports are up 6 percent to $957.8 billion. But imports are up more — 7.3 percent to $1.19 trillion.

So far in 2017, the U.S. is running a $336.2 billion deficit in the trade of goods and a $103.1 billion surplus in the trade of services such as banking and tourism.