U.S. Trade deficit fell in 2007

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The Associated Press

WASHINGTON _ Despite a soaring foreign oil bill and another record deficit with China, the overall U.S. trade deficit declined in 2007 after setting records for five consecutive years.

The Commerce Department reported Thursday that the deficit dropped to $711.6 billion last year, a decline of 6.2 percent. The trade deficit with China continued to rise, jumping by 10.2 percent to $256.3 billion. That was the largest gap ever recorded with a single country, as Chinese imports surged despite a string of high-profile recalls of tainted products.

The Bush administration credits its free trade policies for spurring strong growth in exports while critics contend that even with the lower overall deficit, the imbalance is still nearly double what it was in 2001, the year Bush took office.

For December, the deficit fell by 6.9 percent to $58.8 billion, a bigger-than-expected improvement to close out the year.