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Cargo cranes unload a container ship at the Port of Tacoma in Tacoma, Wash., on Nov. 4, 2019.

Ted S. Warren/The Associated Press

The U.S. trade deficit surged in August to the largest in 14 years with imports climbing again, suggesting that trade could be a drag on economic growth in the third quarter.

The Commerce Department said on Tuesday the trade deficit jumped 5.9 per cent to $67.1 billion, the widest since August 2006.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the trade gap widening to $66.1 billion in August.

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Imports increased by 3.2 per cent to $239 billion. Goods imports rose $6.5 billion to $203 billion. Exports increased 2.2 per cent to $171.9 billion. Goods exports rose $3.5 billion to $119.1 billion.

The closely watched trade deficit with China decreased $1.9 billion to $26.4 billion in August.

A smaller trade bill contributed to gross domestic product over the last three quarters. The coronarivus crisis severely disrupted trade flows, which are now picking up.

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