Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Trade Deficit Worsens, Approaches Record

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Trade Deficit Worsens, Approaches Record

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Despite the Clinton administration's aggressive campaign for trade agreements, America's trade deficit is worsening and on track toward a record exceeding $150 billion for 1994.

The Commerce Department reported Thursday that the deficit in November climbed 4.3 percent to $10.5 billion, up from a revised $10.1 billion in October.

U.S. exports of goods and services, helped by a giant surge in sales of commercial airliners, were up 2.2 percent to a record $61.16 billion.

But imports climbed at an even faster pace of 2.5 percent to $71.69 billion, the seventh straight month they have hit a new high. The gain in November reflected in part a higher foreign oil bill and more imports of autos. The trade gap is the difference between imports and exports.

The Clinton administration, which counts among its greatest achievements a round of market-opening trade agreements, blamed the deteriorating trade performance on unequal economic growth rates among America's major trading partners.

"On the good news, our economic recovery continues. That puts American consumers in a position to purchase goods from abroad. The bad news is other economies are not performing as well," said White House press secretary Mike McCurry.

But some private economists contended that major trade barriers, especially in Japan and China, were to blame as well. Despite several market-opening agreements, the United States has been unable to strike a deal with Japan on autos and auto parts, which account for nearly two-thirds of the deficit with Japan.

"Even if our economy slows we are still going to be left with big deficits," said Lawrence Chimerine, an economist at the Economic Strategy Institute in Washington. "It reflects closed markets in Japan and China and it is something we can't keep tolerating."

Through the first 11 months of 1994, the U.S. deficit in goods was running at an annual rate of $152.5 billion _ on track to surpass the record of $152.1 billion set in 1987.

In a second report Thursday, the Labor Department said the number of Americans filing first-time claims for unemployment benefits dropped by a sharp 31,000 last week to 323,000, the lowest figure in three weeks. …

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