Washington — The skyrocketing US trade deficit in 2018 hit the highest level in a decade, a resounding failure for President Donald Trump’s global trade offensive, government data showed on Wednesday. And the US’s merchandise trade deficit — the main focus of Trump’s ire — surged to its highest level in 2018, as did the imbalance in goods trade with China, Mexico and the EU — even after Washington slapped tariffs on hundreds of billions in imports from its largest trading partners. The bulging deficit numbers come as US and Chinese officials say they are nearing a breakthrough in talks to end their trade war. Beijing is expected to offer to make eye-catching purchases of US agricultural goods to cut the trade deficit and please Trump. Trump has angrily described trade deficits as a defeat for the US , and aimed to erase them, but the commerce department report was bristling with records as Americans snapped up mobile phones and companies invested in computer equipment in 2018. The t...

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