WASHINGTON  — The U.S. trade deficit increased slightly in March even though the deficit with China fell to the lowest point in five years.

The Commerce Department said Thursday that the total deficit in goods and services edged up 1.5 percent to $50 billion in March, after falling 3.6 percent in February. The deficit is the difference between what America sells to the rest of the world and what it imports.

Exports rose 1 percent to $212 billion in March while imports rose a slightly faster 1.1 percent to $262 billion.

The deficit in goods with China dropped 16.2 percent to $20.7 billion, the lowest level since March 2014.

The United States and China have been locked in a trade war for the past year with a new round of U.S. tariffs scheduled to go into effect Friday.

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