U.S. trade deficit jumps to 12-year high in 2020

FILE PHOTO: Shipping containers, including one labelled “China Shipping” and another “Italia,” are stacked at the Paul W. Conley Container Terminal in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S., May 9, 2018. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States’ trade deficit surged to its highest level in 12 years in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the flow of goods and services.

The Commerce Department said on Friday that the trade deficit jumped 17.7% to $678.7 billion last year, the highest since 2008. Exports of goods and services tumbled 15.7% to their lowest level since 2010. Imports of goods and services dropped 9.5% to a four-year low.

The plunge in exports contributed to the economy shrinking 3.5% last year, the biggest drop in gross domestic product since 1946. Trade flows have been gradually improving. For December, the trade deficit narrowed 3.5% to $66.6 billion .

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the trade gap would shrink to $65.7 billion in December.

Imports of goods rose 1.5% to $217.7 billion in December. Goods exports shot up 4.7% to $133.5 billion.

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