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Expand chart
Data: U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis via FRED; Chart: Axios Visuals

The U.S. trade balance fell to a deficit of $63.6 billion in July, $10 billion larger than the month before, and the biggest monthly deficit since July 2008.

Why it matters: The spike in the trade deficit comes despite President Trump's trade war with China and tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars of imports from China, Europe and other countries, as well as the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, which went into effect this year.

  • The increase between the deficit in July 2016 and July 2020 is "especially notable given the drop in trade flows related to the COVID-19 pandemic," liberal think tank Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch director Lori Wallach said in a statement.
  • "Comparing the trade flows in the first seven months of 2019 to the same period in 2020, U.S. trade has decreased 15%."

By the numbers: The $340 billion trade deficit in the first seven months of 2020 is 12.2% higher than during the same period in 2016.

  • The trade deficit with China was $3 billion more on the month at $31.6 billion.
  • The deficit with Europe also increased $3 billion from the prior month, to $23.1 billion.
  • The July 2020 surplus in services trade was the smallest since August 2012, at $17.4 billion.

But, but, but: While much of Trump's foreign policy has seemed driven by an intolerance for trade deficits, they are not necessarily bad for the economy.

Go deeper

Global carbon dioxide emissions fell by 7% in 2020

Water vapor from the cooling towers of a power plant in Brandenburg, Germany, in November 2020. Photo: Patrick Pleul/picture alliance via Getty Images

Global carbon dioxide emissions fell by an estimated 7% in 2020, according to a study by the Global Carbon Project published in the journal Earth System Science Data on Thursday.

Why it matters: It's likely the largest fall in carbon emission ever recorded and is largely the result of the coronavirus pandemic keeping people at home.

1 hour ago - World

Army to award Purple Hearts to troops injured in Iran missile attack

Damage at Ain al-Asad military airbase housing U.S. and other foreign troops in the western Iraqi province of Anbar in January 2020. Photo: Ayman Henna/AFP via Getty Images

The Army has approved 39 more Purple Hearts for U.S. soldiers wounded in an Iranian military ballistic missile attack on an Iraq base in January 2020, the Army Times first reported Wednesday.

Why it matters: Most of these soldiers sustained brain injuries, per the Army Times. Then-President Trump dismissed their injuries at the time as "headaches" and "not very serious," sparking backlash from some veterans groups.

Scoop: U.S. begins denying Afghan immigrants

Afghan refugees on a bus bound for temporary housing after arriving in Greece. Photo: Byron Smith/Getty Images

The Biden administration has begun issuing denials to Afghans seeking to emigrate to the United States through the humanitarian parole process, after a system that typically processes 2,000 applications annually has been flooded with more than 30,000.

Why it matters: Afghans face steeper odds and longer processes for escaping to the U.S., despite the earlier sweeping efforts by the Biden administration to assist its allies. Immigration lawyers and advocacy groups say the government has set untenable barriers to a safe haven in the U.S.