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US trade deficit shrinks more than expected to 3-year low

The monthly U.S. international trade deficit narrowed more than expected in November 2019 to its lowest level in three years, driven by a decline in imports and a rise in exports, the U.S. Census Bureau reported.

The seasonally adjusted trade deficit in goods and services shrank to $43.09 billion in November 2019 from a revised $46.94 billion recorded in the previous month. The consensus estimate of economists polled by Econoday was for a trade deficit of $43.9 billion.

November's trade deficit was the lowest since the $42.00 billion trade gap recorded in October 2016, according to government data.

Imports dropped to $251.72 billion in November 2019 from a revised $254.21 billion in the prior month. Imports of goods fell to $201.06 billion from $203.96 billion, while imports of services rose to $50.65 billion from a revised $50.25 billion.

Exports increased month over month to $208.63 billion from a revised $207.27 billion. Exports of goods rose to $137.16 billion from $136.16 billion, while services exports advanced to $71.47 billion from $71.11 billion.

The U.S. trade deficit in goods with China narrowed month over month to $25.61 billion from $27.79 billion, while the trade imbalance with Japan widened to $5.75 billion from $4.47 billion.

The monthly goods trade deficit with Canada narrowed to $1.68 billion from a revised $3.32 billion, while the trade shortfall with the EU narrowed to $13.46 billion from $14.33 billion.

The U.S. and China are set to sign a "phase one" trade deal on Jan. 15, 2020, at the White House, President Donald Trump tweeted Dec. 31. In December 2019, the U.S. canceled additional tariffs on China that were set to take effect that month after both sides agreed to the text of the trade deal. China also exempted a list of U.S. goods from countervailing tariffs.

The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Dec. 19 after years of delay, heralding a new era for trade in North America.