"The trade deficit is the numerical difference between a country's exports and imports of goods and services. The United States has experienced annual trade deficits during most of the post-WWII period. Some observers argue that the trade deficit costs U.S. jobs, is unsustainable, or reflects unfair trade practices by foreign competitors. Most economists contend this mischaracterizes the nature of the trade deficit and the role of trade in the economy. In general, most economists conclude the trade deficit stems largely from U.S. macroeconomic policies and an imbalance between saving and investment in the economy. Economists also conclude that trade creates both economic benefits and costs, but that the long-run net effect on the economy as a whole is positive. At the same time, some workers and firms may experience a disproportionate share of short-term adjustment costs. On March 31, 2017, President Trump issued an Executive Order directing key agencies to prepare a written report within 90 days (not yet published) on significant trade deficits with U.S. trading partners, including a focus on: unfair trade practices; and the impact of the trade deficit on U.S. production, employment, wages, and national security."
CRS In Focus, IF10619