Rising exports and falling imports cut the U.S. trade deficit to $42.4 billion in August, the lowest in 11 months.
The Commerce Department said Thursday that the trade gap — the difference between exports and imports — fell in August from $43.6 billion in July.
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Exports came in at $195.3 billion, up from $194.5 billion in July and most since December 2014, on higher shipments of cars, telecommunications equipment and pharmaceuticals. Imports slid to $237.7 billion from July's $238.1 billion.
A trade deficit means that the United States is buying more goods and services from other countries than it is selling to them. Minimizing that gap boosts U.S. economic growth.
President Donald Trump has vowed to bring down America's trade deficits, saying that they have been fueled by bad trade deals and abusive practices in China and other U.S. trading partners. Next week, the United States begins a fourth round of talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico.
The politically sensitive trade deficits with Mexico and China grew. The gap in goods with Mexico climbed 26 percent to $6.2 billion in August, and the goods deficit with China rose 4 percent to $34.9 billion.
Overall, U.S. exporters are benefiting recently from an improving global economy and a weaker dollar, which makes American products less expensive abroad.
But the trade gap is up 9 percent so far this year from January through August 2016.