Canada posts first trade deficit in over 30 years

OTTAWA — The global economic downturn caused both Canadian exports and imports to drop in December, with the former continuing to fall at a faster pace.

According to Stats Canada’s latest report on international merchandise trade, Canada posted a trade deficit of $458 million compared with a surplus of $1.2 billion in November. This, states Statscan, was the first trade deficit since March 1976.

Exports dropped 9.7 percent to $35.3 billion, as both prices and volumes declined. This marked the largest month-over-month percentage decrease since 1982 with the declines widespread across most sectors.

Shipments to the U.S., specifically, dropped another 10 percent to $25.9 billion. The slump in exports, led by crude petroleum, outpaced an 8.4 percent fall in imports. Canada’s trade balance with America is at its lowest level since December 1998.

Imports, meanwhile, also declined, falling 5.7 percent to $35.8 billion, largely attributable to machinery and equipment, automotive products, and industrial goods and materials.

The trade deficit with countries other than the U.S. grew slightly by $4.2 billion in December from $3.4 billion the month before.

While weakening exports of crude petroleum (down 29.1 percent from November, worldwide) and industrial goods and materials were the most notable, agricultural and fishing products exports dropped a modest 7 percent as well, after trending upward since June 2006.

After three consecutive monthly increases, imports of machinery and equipment fell 5.7 percent to $10.6 billion, leading the decline in imports for December, while imports of automotive products declined for the third consecutive month (-10 percent) to $5.2 billion.


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