WASHINGTON -- The US trade deficit hit a record high of $60.3 billion in November as American appetites for foreign oil and even imported food reached record levels.
The Bush administration urged other countries to help fix the problem, but analysts said the yawning deficit won't be so easily solved.
The Commerce Department reported yesterday the shortfall between what the United States sells abroad and what it imports increased 7.7 percent from the previous record -- the October deficit of $56 billion.
That was a surprise given that oil prices had come down during the month. Analysts said it served to underscore the seriousness of the country's trade situation.
The deficit through November totaled $561.3 billion and is expected to top $600 billion once December's figures are tallied, far surpassing last year's record of $496.5 billion.
News on the deficit sent the dollar sharply lower in trading yesterday against major currencies including the euro and the British pound.
Democrats, who sought to make the widening trade and budget deficits issues in the presidential campaign, contended the November shortfall was further evidence that President Bush's trade policies are not working. They note the country lost 2.7 million manufacturing jobs over the past four years as companies moved production facilities to low-wage countries.
But administration officials said foreign countries are not growing fast enough to stimulate domestic demand that would help boost US exports. Treasury Secretary John Snow told reporters in New York that finance officials from the world's seven wealthiest countries would focus on ways to promote global growth when they meet in London in early February.