US imports of goods broke a record in January, rising from $ 67 billion in December to $ 68.2 billion, the US Department of Commerce said.

U.S. goods imports broke a record in January, adding 1.9 percent to the trade deficit as the coronavirus pandemic distorted global trade.

The gap between goods and services sold by the U.S. and goods purchased abroad increased from $ 67 billion in December to $ 68.2 billion, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported on Friday. Exports rose 1 percent to $ 191.9 billion, while imports rose 1.2 percent to $ 260.2 billion.

Goods imports rose $ 3.4 billion in January to a record $ 221.1 billion, led by pharmaceuticals, which rose $ 5 billion, or 39 percent, to $ 17.4 billion. Imports of services fell by around 1 percent.

U.S. goods exports rose $ 2.1 billion to $ 135.7 billion in January, while exports of services such as transportation and travel declined $ 0.3 billion to $ 56.3 billion.

The politically sensitive trade gap with China narrowed 3.2 percent to USD 27.2 billion. The trade deficit with Mexico increased by $ 1.6 billion to $ 11.9 billion in January.

The coronavirus has spurred trade in services such as education and travel, parts of the economy where the US is experiencing persistent surpluses. In terms of US dollars, monthly exports of US services have declined by nearly a quarter since the virus broke out about a year ago.

Year-over-year, the goods and services deficit rose to $ 23.8 billion, or 53.7 percent, from January 2020.

Last month, Commerce reported that the U.S. trade deficit rose 18.1 percent to $ 682 billion in 2020, its highest level since 2008 when the coronavirus disrupted global trade and the attempts of then-President Donald Trump Balancing US trade with the rest of the US hampered the world.

The release of trade data on Friday in January is the last to cover the period covering the Trump administration, which started a trade war with China and imposed steel and other tariffs on American allies that weighed seven decades of US politics.

President Joe Biden and his team have tiptoeed around Trump’s tough trade policy. Biden has not broken off Trump’s trade war with China or proposed lowering tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.

Biden’s election for his administration’s top trade negotiator, Katherine Tai, has pledged to ensure that US trade policy benefits not only corporations but also US workers, and to engage more with US allies to help you grow to counter assertive China.

Tai is waiting to be approved by the Senate. She was fluent in Mandarin and served for several years as the head of the Chinese enforcement agency of the US commercial agent.

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