JEC Chairman Casey’s Statement on the Trade Deficit

Washington, D.C. –U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), Chairman of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC), released the following statement after today’s announcement from the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis that the U.S. trade deficit widened for the second straight month in December 2011:

“Today’s announcement that the U.S. trade deficit increased 3.7 percent in December 2011 to $48.8 billion, the highest level since June, highlights the growing need for policies that help increase exports and protect American workers from unfair competition abroad. 

“The recent trade report also underscores the need for a comprehensive U.S. manufacturing strategy. All of our major global competitors have national manufacturing strategies. We must make it a priority to implement a national manufacturing strategy that supports U.S. manufacturing companies and workers, if we are to close the trade gap.  The manufacturing industry is responsible for 70 percent of all private-sector R&D spending in the United States and is an engine of innovation.  By aligning behind a manufacturing strategy, we can help to create jobs and strengthen our competitive position.

“Additionally, Congress must continue to work on legislation, such as the Currency Exchange Rate Oversight Reform Act of 2011 – which I sponsored and passed Senate in the fall – that will crack down on currency manipulation, which costs millions of U.S. jobs and that unfairly and negatively impacts U.S. trade. Ongoing undervaluation of currency, such as the Yuan, continues to cause severe economic disruptions and imbalances globally and is taking a significant toll on manufacturers and workers across the United States.

“Our strategy should also increase access to training programs that focus on improving the skill sets of workers. Equipping our workers with the skills they need to find jobs will help to ensure that employers are able to find the skilled employees they need to operate and expand their businesses.” 

International trade data released today by the Census Bureau showed the U.S. trade deficit widening by $48.8 billion. Exports increased by $1.2 billion over the month to $178.8 billion, but imports grew by $3.0 billion to $227.6 billion. For the full year of 2011, the U.S. trade balance declined by $558 billion. However, relative to the size of the U.S. economy, the trade deficit ticked down only 0.3 percentage points to 3.7 percent from 3.4 percent in 2010.


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