A decline in exports caused the monthly U.S. trade deficit to widen in June by 4.4 percent to $53.1 billion, and China gained further ground on American industry, according to a Commerce Department report Thursday.
Exports tumbled by 2.3 percent to $170.9 billion compared with the prior month, while imports also fell slightly to $223.9 billion.
Expanding foreign trade has been a key element of government efforts to regain economic momentum, with President Barack Obama pledging last year in his State of the Union address to double annual exports from $1.57 trillion in 2009 to $3.14 trillion in 2015.
Acting Commerce Secretary Rebecca Blank said in a statement that the numbers “were lower than we’d hoped” but emphasized that the pace of export growth over the first half of the year should be enough to meet the president’s goal.
“While we are at a fragile time in the world economy, the administration will continue to innovate to help our businesses compete globally, stabilize the economy, strengthen the middle class, and accelerate hiring in communities and towns across the nation,” Blank said.
The goods deficit with China increased to $26.7 billion in June, a cause for concern for the Alliance for American Manufacturing as China continues to gain ground on American industry.
“A rising trade deficit is not the prescription for job creation in America,” said Scott Paul, the group’s executive director. “The June trade deficit exceeded virtually every estimate and is further proof that our economy is falling behind.”
Paul called on the administration to pressure China into letting its currency float on the open market, which would increase its value against the dollar. A stronger Chinese yuan would make China’s goods less attractive to American buyers.
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