It rose 12.5pc to $621bn in 2018, compared to $552.3bn the year before, as both imports and exports jumped to their highest ever levels.
The December trade gap jumped to $59.8 billion, which was also a 10-year high, according to media reports.
A container ship is unloaded at the Port of Oakland in this file photo.
To be clear, trade deficits - whether bilateral or otherwise - are not necessarily bad, nor are they a sign that we're being somehow "cheated" by other countries.
Trump rejects conventional economic views of trade, which hold that deficits are not always a negative for the economy as they can allow cheaper goods and services be made available to more people while promoting job creation.
Also, the dollar strengthened against other currencies in the latter part of 2018, making foreign goods more affordable for Americans. -China trade relationship can work in Trump's favor: there are simply far more Chinese goods coming into the U.S.to hit with tariffs than there are American goods flowing into China that can be hit with retaliatory charges.
Trump persists with the import levies even as some supporters push for him to also act on other forces fuelling the trade deficit, including a robust dollar.
Markets are struggling for direction as traders await any update on negotiations between the United States and China on a trade agreement.
In addition to a record trade gap in goods with China, the imbalance reached new peaks with Mexico (81.5 billion dollars) and the European Union (169.3 billion dollars). Meanwhile, the surplus in services kept rising, hitting a record $US270.2 billion past year.
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Note: Event organisers are grateful for the support for New Zealand government through the Major Events Development Fund, ATEED, H3 and ChristchurchNZ.
Following a spat between the United States and the EU when America lifted tariffs on steel and aluminium, Mr Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker previous year reached a truce. Harvard Kennedy School professor Jeffrey Frankel warned in January 2018 that "the increase in spending afforded by tax cuts goes entirely, rather than only partly, into the current-account deficit".
The gap worsened because Americans bought more household appliances, cell phones and computer products from overseas, while foreign demand for civilian aircraft and oil products declined, dragging down US exports. Computer imports also increased 0.7 billion USA dollars.
Economists expect exports to remain weak even if Washington and Beijing strike a trade deal.
China has offered to buy a reported US$1.2 trillion in additional American products over the next six years in a deal that reportedly would ease each side's tariffs, usher in changes to Beijing's state-led economic model and include tough new enforcement mechanisms.
The gap with China on goods widened to an all-time record of 419.2 billion dollars.
The increased trade gap along with weak home construction figures for December likely means slower economic growth during the final three months of 2018, according to Jim O'Sullivan, chief US economist at High Frequency Economics.
When adjusted for inflation, the goods trade deficit surged $10.0 billion to a record $91.6 billion in December.
A BofA Merrill Lynch Global Research report in 2018 also expects the share of the trade deficit in GDP to grow 0.2 percentage points by 2020.