The trade deficit in January stood at $48.5 billion, a 9.6 percent increase from December. U.S. imports of goods and services increased to $240.6 billion in January from $235.3 billion in December. U.S. exports of goods and services increased to $192.1 billion in January from $191.0 billion in December.
In January 2017, the trade deficit for goods and services was 11.8 percent higher as compared to January 2016, increasing from $43.4 billion to $48.5 billion. During this period, the largest drivers of the change in the trade deficit were consumer and capital goods. Imports were $18.4 billion higher, driven by $16.3 billion in goods and $1.8 billion in services. Exports were $13.3 billion higher in January 2017 as compared to January 2016, driven by a $10.5 billion increase in goods and a $2.3 billion increases in services.
“Today’s data shows there is much work to be done,” said Treasury Secretary Wilbur Ross. “President Trump has made free and fair trade a central part of his agenda, and correcting this imbalance is an important step in achieving that goal. To that end, in the coming months we will renegotiate bad trade deals and bring renewed energy to trade enforcement in defense of all hard-working Americans.”
At the same time Tuesday, Secretary Ross announced that China’s Zhongxing Telecommunications Equipment Corporation and ZTE Kangxun Telecommunications Ltd., known collectively as ZTE, has agreed to a record-high combined civil and criminal penalty of $1.19 billion, pending approval from the courts, after illegally shipping telecommunications equipment to Iran and North Korea in violation of the Export Administration Regulations (EAR) and the Iranian Transactions and Sanctions Regulations (ITSR).
As part of the settlement, ZTE has agreed to pay a penalty of $661 million to Commerce’s Bureau of Industry Security (BIS), with $300 million suspended during a seven-year probationary period to deter future violations. This civil penalty is the largest ever imposed by the BIS and, if the criminal plea is approved by a federal judge, the combined $1.19 billion in penalties from Commerce, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Treasury, would be the largest fine and forfeiture ever levied by the U.S. government in an export control case.
“We are putting the world on notice: the games are over,” said Secretary Ross. “Those who flout our economic sanctions and export control laws will not go unpunished – they will suffer the harshest of consequences. Under President Trump’s leadership, we will be aggressively enforcing strong trade policies with the dual purpose of protecting American national security and protecting American workers.”