Published: Thu, May 04, 2017
Finance | By Laverne Griffith

Canadian exports hit record high in March as trade deficit narrows

Canadian exports hit record high in March as trade deficit narrows

Meanwhile, the Commerce Department said the value of exports fell by 0.9 percent to $191.0 billion in March from $192.7 billion in February.

The bounce back in export volumes is certainly a welcome development, but strong imports and weak exports earlier in the year means that net trade will weigh on economic growth in the first quarter of this year.

The results were better than expected, as economists had forecast a Can$1 billion deficit in the month - slightly less than the amount posted in February.

Statistics Canada noted higher imports of unwrought gold from Japan, and the highest level of imports of industrial machinery, equipment and parts since September 2016.

Imports of goods and services slipped 0.7 percent to $234.7 billion.

President Donald Trump is poised to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, which links Canada, Mexico and the United States, and has threatened to pull out unless the U.S. gets a favourable deal.

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Compared to the same month previous year, exports are now nearly 13% higher. He has called NAFTA a "disaster".

Shortly afterwards, the USA administration slapped tariffs on Canadian exports of softwood lumber and complained about Canada's dairy sector, helping to sink the Canadian dollar to 14-month lows. "The advance data pointed to a small increase in the deficit".

The new figures follow a deficit of $1.1 billion the month before.

Exports to the European Union and South Korea hit all-time monthly records at $25.7 billion and $4.4 billion respectively while exports to Germany were the highest in almost nine years at $5 billion. Production cuts agreed to a year ago by petroleum producing countries helped drive up the average import price to $49.33, the highest since August 2015.

Total exports excluding energy products increased 1.9 percent.

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