"In 2004 the United States incurred a record merchandise trade deficit of $651 billion on a census basis and $665 billion on a balance-of-payments basis (BoP). A surplus in services trade of $48 billion gave a deficit of $617 billion on goods and services (BoP) for the year -- up $121 billion or 24.3% from the $496.5 billion deficit in 2003. [...] Trade deficits are a concern for Congress because they may generate trade friction and pressures for the government to do more to open foreign markets, to shield U.S. producers from foreign competition, or to assist U.S. industries to become more competitive. As the deficit increases, the risk also rises of a precipitous drop in the value of the dollar and disruption in financial markets."
CRS Issue Brief for Congress, IB96038
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