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The Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Economic Analysis released the April trade figures this morning. The news is bad.

The trade deficit measures how much more we buy from other countries than they buy from us. It is a way to measure loss of jobs, loss of factories, loss of expertise, loss of supply chains, loss of money and loss of national opportunity.

The overall U.S. international goods and services trade deficit rose to $47.2 billion in April, from (revised) $44.2 billion in March. This is the highest since July 2012.

What The Trade Deficit Means

Imagine American factories and other businesses receiving an additional $44.2 billion in orders last month, and every single month, and you can visualize the effect of this trade deficit. How many people would be hired due to an additional $44.2 billion in orders? How many suppliers would get a boost in orders? How many local businesses surrounding these thriving factories would be getting extra business? That is a measure of how many people are not working and how much economic damage is being done because of the trade deficit. Think about the effect of that, repeated every single month, and you are seeing the effect of the trade deficit.

Korea Trade Deficit And American Steel Jobs

Remember how the U.S.-Korea free trade agreement, approved by Congress in 2011, was going to boost our economy and "create jobs"? The U.S. goods deficit with South Korea reached a new record in April, having gone up for the second straight month, to $2.3 billion, from $1.3 billion in March.

On top of that, South Korea is exporting "oil country tubular goods (OCTG)" – pipes and tubes used for petroleum production – to America at prices that appear to be below cost and in ways that appear designed to circumvent international trade laws. Korea doesn't use these products so their production is entirely about weakening the American steel industry. (See Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: "U.S. Steel closes two tubular plants indefinitely, including one in McKeesport.")

A report from the Economic Policy Institute (EPI) and the Law Offices of Stewart and Stewart, titled "Surging Steel Imports Put Up To Half a Million U.S. Jobs at Risk," finds that half a million jobs are at risk because of these surging steel imports. See "SOSJobs Save Our Steel jobs:

American steel jobs are in jeopardy.

In July 2013, domestic steel producers filed a trade case that is now pending at the U.S. Department of Commerce. A final decision will be made in early July 2014 and it is critical that our government fully investigates this cheating.

Stand with us and urge our government to make the right choice: save our steel jobs.

Learn more about the OCTG crisis from the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) and from the United Steelworkers (USW).

The April U.S. goods deficit with China jumped almost a third, to $27.3 billion, from $20.4 billion in March. We also had a $14 billion trade deficit with the European Union and a $7 billion trade gap with Germany, the highest on record.

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