WASHINGTON (AP) _ A sharp deterioration in America's trade performance in December pushed the deficit for all of 1997 to $113.7 billion, the worst showing in nine years.

The politically sensitive trade gaps with Japan and China both soared _ with the Chinese imbalance climbing to an all-time high of $49.7 billion, the worst ever with any country other than Japan, the Commerce Department reported today.

For all of 1997, U.S. exports of goods and services climbed 9.9 percent to a record $932.3 billion. But imports were a record as well, rising 9 percent to $1.05 trillion, the first time imports have topped the $1 trillion mark.

The overall deficit was up 2.4 percent from the 1996 imbalance of $111 billion and was the worst showing since a $115.9 billion in 1988.