How large is the US-China trade deficit?


EXPLAINERS: Concepts in 300 Words or Less

USTR head Robert Lighthizer testified before the Ways and Means Committee on February 27th, updating Congress on the progress of US-China trade talks. Of particular note was his acknowledgement that tariffs have failed to accomplish one of the White House’s key goals: reducing America’s trade deficit.

How large is America’s trade deficit with China? And how has it developed over time?


According to Census Bureau data, America’s deficit in goods trade with China averaged around $35 billion a month in 2018. That’s up from $24.5 billion in 2011.

At the same time, China accounts for an increasing share of America’s total goods deficit. In 2011, the US-China gap made of 40.6 percent of America’s trade imbalance. Last year, it accounted for 48.3 percent.

The comparison to 2011 is no exception. As the data shows, the gap with China has been steadily increasing for several decades. And the US-China has been growing faster than America’s deficit with other nations.