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

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

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

Paul Ashworth, chief U.S. economist for Capital Economics, said that about one-fourth of the improvement in U.S. exports came from increased sales of American soybeans, which he said would be put “at risk of being reversed if the (U.S.-China) trade talks collapse amid acrimony and higher tariffs.” China is a major buyer of U.S. soybeans.

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