"The costs of the trade war are quite large relative to optimistic estimates of any gains that are likely to be achieved", the report said. It is, by and large, an accounting measure that often moves in directions inverse to the health of the U.S. economy.
Economists broadly agree that the trade deficit isn't a particularly accurate indicator of economic health - and, in fact, many have argued that the deficit climbed in part past year because the US performed so admirably in the face of global economic malaise.
In other words, the 10 percent was not a tariff created to reduce the trade deficit. "It's not an accident". And instead of pulling back on support for technology development, Premier Li Keqiang, in his report to the national legislature on 2019 government goals, promised even more such support.
What is a trade deficit?
She added that it was unusual for deficits to be so high when unemployment in the United States is so low. Nominal goods exports to China tanked by 33% year-over-year in December, likely as a result of China's retaliatory tariffs on USA goods.
In 2018, however, solid USA growth, low unemployment and consumers' thirst for foreign products drove imports of goods and services up 7.5 percent to a record $3.1 trillion in 2018.
When factoring in the services sector, the deficit grew to $621 billion, the highest since the 2008 global recession and about $100 billion higher than it was when Barack Obama left office.
In 2016, it was $502 billion.
Donald Trump slams 'shameful' indecision by House Democrats on anti-Semitism
Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., as the first Muslim women to serve in the Congress , for what they considered to be anti-Semitic remarks. Eventually, reading the tea leaves, those same Democrats who were so eager to pass the resolution made a decision to delay it.
Although the strengthening dollar and slowing economic growth in some regions contribute to the widening deficits, the record number may also partly be the president's own making- thanks to the trade tension he started with major trading partners including China and the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed in 2017.
The destructive and pointless absurdity of the Trump administration's aggressive trade policies showed up, quite predictably (to those outside the Trump administration) in a blow-out in the U.S. trade deficit in 2018.
Most economists do not consider a trade deficit to be a marker of economic weakness. Higher imports equal bigger trade deficit. The tariffs he threatened and then imposed on Chinese imports caused a rush by importers to get ahead of the new duties that fueled an increase in incoming traffic at West Coast ports a year ago.
Trump announced in a Twitter post last month that he would delay another planned increase in tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods that was originally set for 1 March.
But the deficit has been a long-standing bugaboo for Trump.
But advocates of a stronger United States currency policy argue that Trump himself carries plenty of blame. Even Trump's attempts to deal with currency issues in trade negotiations with China-or his public complaints about a strong dollar-seem unlikely to change anything.
"When we impose a tariff, it is the domestic consumers and purchasers of imports that bear the full cost of the tariffs", Columbia economics professor David Weinstein wrote in the report. Tariffs lead to higher prices paid by consumers, so when the president and administration officials cite an influx of tariff-related funds to the US government, USA consumers are largely the ones footing the bill.