The U.S. trade deficit surged to a record $68 billion in July, as imports reached an all-time high and exports declined for the first time in five years.

A Commerce Department report issued Tuesday shows the deficit was much bigger than the $65.5 billion that analysts expected. The report says the gap between what Americans buy from foreign countries and what they sell abroad increased more than $3 billion over the June figure.

Analysts say the United States is on track this year to surpass last year's record annual trade deficit of nearly $717 billion.

Improvement of the U.S. trade deficit may prove difficult because U.S. economic growth, while slowing, is still outpacing that of most of its trading partners.

Some information for this report provided by AFP.