Statistics Canada says exports saw a slight decline and household spending slowed for a second straight quarter. (Photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Statistics Canada reports trade deficit shrank to $3.2 billion in March

Mendes said a slowdown in exports in the first quarter appears to have been partially tied to oil production restraint in Alberta

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.

READ MORE: BMO CEO says Canada’s economic growth ‘moderating’, but ‘no screeching halt’

The growth came as exports of energy products rose 7.7 per cent to $9.6 billion in March and motor vehicles and parts gained 5.6 per cent at $7.7 billion.

Meanwhile, imports rose 2.5 per cent to $52.3 billion, as consumer goods posted the largest increase.

Imports of consumer goods rose 6.7 per cent 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 per cent 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 per cent in March to $12.7 billion, while imports from those countries rose eight per cent 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 per cent to $36.4 billion, while imports from the United States fell 0.4 per cent.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Bike to Work Week officially kicks off

Organizers calling current cycling conditions the perfect storm

Sunny with a high of 22 C for Monday

Plus your weekly forecast

Greater Victoria records a drop in EI recipients

2,140 received regular EI benefits in March 2019, a drop of 3.2 per cent

Playground a fitting tribute to Sarah Beckett

West Shore Rotary sells bricks to raise funds for playground equipment

Panorama Rec serves top junior tennis tournament

160 boys and 94 girls, from 14 countries compete June 1–8 in ITF Championships

WATCH: Thousands enjoy sunshine at second annual Village Block Party

Cook Street filled with local food, music and more

Social media giants in hot seat as politicians consider regulations in Ottawa

Committee members will also grill representatives from Facebook, Twitter

Wildfire crews watching for dangerous wind shift in High Level, Alta.

The Chuckegg Creek fire is raging out of control about three kilometres southwest of the town

UN urges Canada to take more vulnerable Mexican migrants from Central America

The request comes as the United States takes a harder line on its Mexican border

Mistrial declared in Jamie Bacon murder plot trial

Bacon was on trial for counselling to commit the murder of Person X

B.C. VIEWS: Money-laundering melodrama made for TV

Public inquiry staged to point fingers before 2021 election

Canadian homebuyers escaping high housing costs by moving to secondary cities

In British Columbia, exurbs have grown in the Hope Valley and Kamloops

Feds lay out proposed new rules for voice, video recorders in locomotives

Transport Canada wants to limit use of recorders to if a crew’s actions led to a crash

Most Read