Trump claim on US trade deficit ignores services surplus

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US President Donald Trump’s claim on Tuesday evening that the US trade deficit came to “nearly $800bn” was based solely on goods, ignoring a surplus in exported services that brought the full deficit lower than his figure by about $300bn.

US Census Bureau data show the nominal deficit came to $502.3bn in 2016, about $298 less than Mr Trump’s assertion. It was up about $2bn from 2015. However, in terms of goods alone – ignoring a $247bn surplus in exported services – the deficit came to $750bn last year.

The Trump administration is reportedly mulling changes to how the US calculates its trade deficit, which could make the gap appear larger than it does under the current method, according to the Wall Street Journal.

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