US President Donald Trump has called the latest trade figures a “sham” and an “illusion” that will leave Americans “frightened” about their financial situation.
“We’re doing great but you’re not,” Mr Trump told reporters at a White House news conference on Wednesday.
“This is a sham, it’s an illusion,” he added.
“And I’m not going to talk about it.
But this is a big, big scam.
The biggest scam of all time.
A sham that will kill you.
You are going to be f—ed.”‘
We’re not the same’ Mr Trump’s comments came hours after the Commerce Department reported the trade deficit widened to $2.5 billion in December, its biggest one-month increase in four years.
Mr Trump, in his first interview since taking office on Jan. 20, also said he was “not the same” as his predecessor.
“I’m not the President I was two weeks ago,” he said.
“We’re winning the trade wars, but we’re not winning the war on drugs.”
The president is expected to unveil a budget later on Wednesday that would cut taxes and regulations by an average of $1.5 trillion.
He has previously said he would like to see the US trade deficit shrink to the lowest level since the end of World War Two.
But the numbers are “very encouraging”, Mr Trump said.
“We have a surplus.
I am a very proud President.
I have a trade surplus,” he told reporters.
In the latest figures, the US exports rose by $1 billion to $1,085.6 billion in November.
Exports of US goods and services rose by almost $2 billion to a record $5.4 trillion.
The trade deficit rose to $3.7 billion in January.
The trade deficit of the United States with Canada and Mexico fell by $2 trillion to $5 trillion in the December quarter.
The country’s trade deficit with China fell by nearly $1 trillion to almost $14 trillion.
“As we look ahead to next month, we have some very positive numbers,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement.
Australia’s trade surplus with the US increased by $4.1 billion in the month, its second consecutive monthly increase.
Australia’s trade with Canada, a US ally, was down by $3 billion, but remained the largest single contributor to its trade deficit.
Mexico’s trade was down $2 million, to $6.9 billion, although its trade with the United Kingdom was up by $8.6 million.
Mexico’s currency was down 0.2% against the US dollar, which rose 0.7%.
Canada’s foreign exchange reserves fell to $16.6 trillion.
They were at $16,600 billion on Tuesday, down from $20,700 billion a year earlier.
Canada also recorded a trade deficit for the third straight month, up by nearly 3% to $834 billion in October.
Mr Ross said the US’s trade imbalance with Canada had grown to $14.6bn in December.
Meanwhile, the trade surplus in the US with Canada was up $3bn in November to $12.5bn.
The US-Canada trade deficit fell to about $10.2 billion in 2014.
China’s trade balance fell by more than $2bn to $7.2bn in October, while Japan’s trade slipped by $7bn to about US$1.6tn.