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Despite lower prices, trade balance grows

Published by Steve Coleman on May 10, 2012

Fewer energy exports fuelled a decline in Canada's trade numbers in March.

Lower energy prices dropped the country's overall merchandise exports by 0.4 per cent for the month, while the value of goods imported from other countries was down 0.6 per cent. Canada's trade balance with the world increased from $273 million in February to $351 million in March.

However, a 1.3 per cent decrease in energy prices led the country's third-straight month of lower export revenues. While energy prices were lower, manufacturers did ship more industrial goods and materials as well as machinery and equipment.

At first glance, Canadians also imported less during the month. A 2.3 per cent price decrease dropped the dollar value of imports for the month to $39.1 billion.

In terms of actual dollars, Canadians also imported fewer energy products and less industrial goods and materials. Volumes of everything else were up for the month.

As for who bought all those widgets with the Made in Canada stamp, fewer of them were Americans for the third-straight month. Statistics Canada says shipments to the US fell 2.1 per cent for the month to $28.7 billion.

By the same token, US imports fell 1.4 per cent to $24.1 billion for the month. Canada's trade surplus with the US decreased from the $4.9 billion recorded in February to $4.6 billion in March.

While Canadian companies shipped less south of the border in March, the dollar value on goods headed for the rest of the world increased substantially for the month. Foreign buyers purchased 4.5 per cent more Canadian merchandise, pushing the dollar value to $10.8 billion for the month.

On the flip sign, imports from countries other than the US increased 0.8 per cent to $15.1 billion. Canada was still running a trade deficit with the rest of the world at the end of the month, but it was smaller. The dollar value shrank from $4.9 billion in February to $4.6 billion in March.

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