In the midst of a series of trade battles sparked by President Donald Trump's use of tariffs to both protect American industry and punish certain trading partners, the Commerce Department reported Tuesday that the nation's trade deficit shrank in November by just over eight percent.
If the trade imbalance stays on that path in December, it would be the first time that the yearly trade deficit went down on a year-to-year basis in six years.
Exports in November went up 0.7 percent to $208.6 billion, while imports went down one percent, to $251.7 billion, as the individual trade deficits went down with three major U.S. trading partners - China, Japan, and Canada.
The trade news came just a few hours before the Senate Finance Committee overwhelmingly voted to approve enabling legislation associated with the USMCA - the trade deal involving the U.S., Mexico, and Canada, which hammered out in recent months by the Trump Administration.
The USMCA now goes to the Senate floor, where final approval is expected as early as next week.
"This long-awaited agreement is a significant improvement over the status quo of NAFTA," said Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH). "By opening more markets, it is good for American workers, farmers, and manufacturers, and it will create thousands of new jobs here in the United States."
"It is good for American workers," said Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS), who joined Portman in voting for the plan in committee. "It is good public policy."
"One step closer to seeing USMCA signed into law," said Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-SD).
After several yrs of hard work USMCA just passed out of Sen Finance Cmte 25-3 BIG bipartisan support for trade deal is a historic win Congrats to @realDonaldTrump +USTR Amb Lighthizer +the USA! USMCA is good news for workers/manufacturers/farmers & all Americans— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) January 7, 2020
The USMCA agreement has been especially welcomed by farmers, as farm interests at all levels have been buffeted by the collateral damage of the President's trade fights.
"We hope the USMCA will be a model for future U.S. trade agreements as the administration pursues a level playing field around the globe for our farmers and ranchers," said Zippy Duvall, the President of the American Farm Bureau Federation.