The US trade deficit grew in 2015 as exports fell for the first time since the recession amid a slowing global economy, while the gap with China hit a record.
The US trade shortfall in goods and services widened 4.6 percent from a year ago to $531.5 billion, the largest since 2012, the Commerce Department said Friday.
Exports fell for the first time since 2009, and outpaced the decline in imports as a strong US dollar and weak foreign demand weighed on the world's largest economy.
Exports dropped 4.8 percent to $2.2 trillion, the lowest level since 2012. Imports fell 3.1 percent to $2.8 trillion.
"The US economy remains resilient to global weakness and will expand through 2016, driving stronger demand for imports," said Emily Mandel of Moody's Analytics.
She said that stronger US consumption likely would stimulate economic activity overseas this year, particularly in Europe and Asia.
China became the largest US goods trading partner in 2015, with $598.1 billion in goods and services, pushing Canada into second place.
The 28-nation European Union, as a bloc, continued to eclipse China, having $698.7 billion in goods trade with the US.
But the trade gap with China hit a record $365.7 billion in 2015, up 6.2 percent from 2014. US lawmakers have long criticized the Chinese government for keeping the yuan currency undervalued to gain an unfair trade advantage.
The trade gap with the EU also increased to a new record at $153.8 billion, up 7.7 percent from 2014.
The shortfall with Canada narrowed slightly to $14.8 billion.
The year ended with a return to the widening trend in the US trade deficit. After shrinking in November, the trade gap increased to $43.4 billion in December, in line with analyst estimates. The November reading was slightly revised down to $42.2 billion.
December exports of $181.5 billion were down 0.3 percent from November, while imports rose 0.3 percent to $224.9 billion.
Exports of automobiles and parts, industrial supplies and food fell. Automotive imports posted the biggest gain in December imports.
"On balance, the official December trade data support our view that the stronger dollar and weak foreign growth will prove a persistent drag on US growth," said Barclays analyst Jesse Hurwitz.