The countries most likely to be affected by Donald Trump’s protectionism

China looms large in Donald Trump’s protectionist rhetoric thanks to the US having a huge trade deficit with it. Among US bilateral trade deficits, India is ranked sixth


US President Donald Trump may use the Bureau of Economic Analysis data to single out the countries he would want to build protectionist barriers against. Photo: AFP
US President Donald Trump may use the Bureau of Economic Analysis data to single out the countries he would want to build protectionist barriers against. Photo: AFP

The US Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) has released the latest data for US international trade in goods and services for 2016. These figures are important because US President Donald Trump may use them to single out the countries he would want to build protectionist barriers against. The accompanying chart shows the countries with which the US has the largest deficits in trade in goods and services.

The first thing to notice is the huge deficit with China. The total US deficit for 2016 was $500.560 billion, of which the deficit with China alone totalled $309.756 billion. It is no wonder that China looms so large in Trump’s protectionist rhetoric.

As the chart above shows, the US deficit with Mexico is much smaller, at $61.725 billion for 2016. Trump’s dislike of Mexico appears to be more of an anti-immigrant stance than an anti-trade one.

According to the BEA data, India came in at sixth from the top in the list of countries with which the US has bilateral trade deficits. The US deficit with India in 2016 was $30.923 billion, of which $24.4 billion was the trade deficit and $6.5 billion the deficit in services, including information technology. It is the country with which the US has the largest trade deficit in services.

However, while the deficit may seem large, US trade with India is not. For example, total imports into the US from India in 2016 were $72.9 billion, compared to $479 billion from China, $323.8 billion from Mexico and $313 billion from Canada. But US exports to these countries are also much higher than exports to India.

Even in services, US imports from the UK, Germany, Canada and Japan are higher than imports from India.

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