Trade between the U.S. and China was down sharply in the first nine months of the year.
Imports from China dropped to around $342 billion from $395 billion a year ago. In September, the U.S. imported just over $40 billion of goods from China, down from nearly $48 billion in the year-ago period.
Exports to China are down as well. The U.S. has exported around $78.7 billion of goods to China so far in 2019, down from $93.3 billion a year ago. September saw the month’s exports tumble from $9.7 billion a year ago to just $8.6 billion.
The trade deficit with China, the difference between goods exported to China and those imported from China, fell to $263 billion from nearly $302 billion in the first nine months of 2018.
While the decline in exports to China is a negative for U.S. companies that sell goods into China, many of those wary of the influence of China on America will welcome the decline on both sides of the trade ledger.
“Ultimately, the Chinese government’s increasingly brazen actions to leverage its commercial influence and stifle free expression should be a wake-up call for the United States,” Federal Communications Commission chair Ajit Pai said in a speech on Tuesday to the Council of Foreign Relations.
Pai was not calling for a decoupling of the U.S. economy from China’s but his speech emphasized the dangers of those ties when it comes to telecommunications technology.