Canadian exports hit record high in March as trade deficit narrows

Canadian exports hit record high in March as trade deficit narrows

WASHINGTON-The U.S. trade gap widened in the first quarter compared to a year earlier as exports and imports rose, suggesting underlying strength in the global economy.

Canada's trade deficit narrowed sharply to just $135 million in March as exports surged to a new high on shipments of energy products and consumer goods, Statistics Canada said on Thursday. The goods and services deficit in March was $43.7 billion, down $0.1 billion from February's revised numbers.

The government reported last week that trade had a neutral impact on the 0.7 percent annualized rise in gross domestic product in the first quarter.

Monthly oil imports rose to their highest level in almost four years at 260 million barrels.

The trade gap slipped 0.1 percent in March to $43.7 billion, seasonally adjusted.

As a result Canada's trade surplus with the United States narrowed from Can$4.5 billion in February to Can$4.0 billion in March.

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Rising oil import prices, which hit a near two-year record, helped fuel the trade deficit, which has become a central focus of the Trump administration's nationalist economic agenda.

On the service part, Exports of services increased $0.4 billion to $64.7 billion in March, at the same time imports of services decreased less than $0.1 billion to $42.9 billion in March.

Compared to the same month past year, exports are now nearly 13% higher.

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 USA gets a favourable deal.

Exports decreased 0.9 percent to $191 billion, the biggest drop since October, led by energy, autos and pharmaceuticals.

The decline in exports was led by falling energy products: crude oil and crude bitumen exports fell 14.2 percent to $48.2 billion while annual volumes of both increased 2.7 percent.

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