Statistics Canada reports trade deficit shrank to $3.2B in March [UPDATED]
Economists had expected a deficit of $2.45 billion
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OTTAWA—Canada’s trade deficit shrank in March but not as much as expected as exports, led by the energy sector, climbed higher.
Statistics Canada said Thursday the merchandise trade deficit for March amounted to $3.2 billion compared with $3.4 billion in February.
Economists had expected a deficit of $2.45 billion, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon.
“The headline trade deficit looked ugly in March, but the details were at least slightly prettier,” CIBC economist Royce Mendes wrote in a report.
Mendes said a slowdown in exports in the first quarter appears to have been partially tied to oil production restraint in Alberta.
“But, even outside of that sector, growth in outbound shipments has been sluggish in recent years, suggesting the need for a weaker Canadian dollar over the medium-term to increase Canada’s international competitiveness,” he said.
Canadian exports rose 3.2 per cent to $49 billion.
The growth came as exports of energy products rose 7.7% to $9.6 billion in March and motor vehicles and parts gained 5.6% at $7.7 billion.
Meanwhile, imports rose 2.5% to $52.3 billion, as consumer goods posted the largest increase.
Imports of consumer goods rose 6.7% in March to a record $10.9 billion, boosted by imports of clothing, footwear and accessories. Imports of motor vehicles and parts rose 4.9% to $9.9 billion.
Breaking down the trade figures by region, Canada’s trade deficit with countries other than the United States hit a record $6.8 billion in March compared with $6.4 billion in February.
Exports to countries other than the United States rose 8.8% in March to $12.7 billion, while imports from those countries rose 8% in March to $19.5 billion.
Meanwhile, Canada’s trade surplus with the United States increased to $3.6 billion in March from $3 billion in February.
Exports to the United States rose 1.3% to $36.4 billion, while imports from the United States fell 0.4%.