Canada trade deficit hits record Can$4.1 bln in March

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Ottawa (AFP)

Canada's trade deficit with the world widened from Can$2.9 billion (US$2.3 billion) in February to a record Can$4.1 billion (US$3.2 billion) in March, official data released Thursday showed.

The deficit was more than double what analysts had forecasts, and marked a month of record trade with countries other than the United States, as well as a continued narrowing of Canada's surplus with its southern neighbor and biggest trading partner.

According to Statistics Canada, imports rose 6.0 percent to a record Can$51.7 billion in March, while exports increased 3.7 percent to Can$47.6 billion.

Both increases were widespread.

However, the government statistical agency noted higher than usual import levels of light trucks, as well as increased imports of clothing, footwear and accessories, and pharmaceutical and medicinal products.

Exports of boats and other personal transportation equipment, meanwhile, almost tripled, mainly due to higher exports of transportation equipment to Saudi Arabia.

Aircraft engines and aircraft parts also contributed to the increase in March, primarily on higher shipments to the United States.

And, wheat exports rebounded in the month, up 52 percent, following a sharp decline in February, which coincided with rail transportation disruptions in Western Canada.

Canada's total trade with countries other than the United States reached a record Can$31.2 billion in March, with imports increasing 11.5 percent and exports up 11.4 percent.

Imports from China (+26.6 percent) led the increase, mainly on higher imports of computers and peripheral equipment, and of communications and audio and video equipment.

Imports from the Netherlands (motor gasoline) and Germany (passenger cars and light trucks) were also significant.

So too were higher exports to Britain (unwrought gold), South Korea (aircraft) and Japan (copper and coal).

Canada's trade surplus with the United States, meanwhile, narrowed for a fifth consecutive month, from Can$2.3 billion in February to Can$1.7 billion in March. Bilateral trade was led by higher imports of passenger vehicles and higher exports of crude oil.