Canada’s trade balance moves from surplus to deficit

OTTAWA — Canada’s merchandise exports increased 1.1 percent in November 2009 on the strength of energy products, while imports rose 3.9 percent due to widespread gains.

As a result, Canada’s trade balance with the world went from a surplus of $503 million in October to a deficit of $344 million in November.

Exports increased to $31.6 billion in November, marking the fifth increase in six months, as prices rose 1.1 percent and volumes remained unchanged. Energy products were the main factor behind the gain in November. Excluding energy products, exports fell 0.3 percent.

Export prices and volumes have each fallen by 16 percent since the value of exports peaked in July 2008.

Imports increased by $1.2 billion to $31.9 billion in November, almost offsetting the declines of the previous three months. The rise in imports represented the third monthly gain in 2009, as volumes increased 2.7 percent while prices rose 1.1 percent.

After peaking in July 2008, the value of imports fell by almost 20 percent, mostly the result of a 17 percent decline in volumes.

Most import sectors posted gains, with automotive products, machinery and equipment, and energy products accounting for the bulk of November’s increase.

Imports of automotive products increased 9.4 percent to $5.3 billion, entirely the result of increased volumes. Since falling to $3.9 billion in January 2009, imports of automotive products have generally been trending upward. In November, imports of trucks and other motor vehicles grew 30.1 percent, and accounted for two-thirds of the gain in this sector.

Higher imports of pickup trucks were the main factor behind this increase. Imports of passenger autos rose 7.2 percent and imports of motor vehicle parts increased 1.4 percent.

Exports to the U.S. rose 2 percent while imports, which increased 3.8 percent, accounted for almost two-thirds of the gain in overall imports. As a result, Canada’s trade surplus with the U.S. narrowed to $3.2 billion in November from $3.5 billion in October.

Exports to countries other than the U.S. fell 1.2 percent while imports from these countries increased 4 percent. Consequently, Canada’s trade deficit with countries other than the U.S. widened to $3.6 billion in November from $3.0 billion in October.

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