Does Trump Really Want to Cook the Books on American Trade? – Slate Magazine
When it comes to Americaâ€™s trade deficits with specific countries, however, re-exports make a difference. Think about those hypothetical TVs again. When Walmart orders them to the States from China, theyâ€™re counted as imports, even though U.S. consumers arenâ€™t really going to buy them. When Walmart then ships them to Mexico, theyâ€™re counted as exports, even though U.S. workers didnâ€™t make them. As a result, our trade gap looks more severe than it should with China and less severe than it should with Mexico. Re-exports distort the picture. The U.S. International Trade Commission publishes its own version of the countryâ€™s trade data that tries to correct for that problem by filtering out goods destined for re-export. But those figures tend to exaggerate our trade deficits, because while itâ€™s possible to exclude all those Vizio TVs from our export figures, itâ€™s not possible, for technical and administrative reasons, to entirely exclude them from our import figures.
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