Statistics Canada says exports and imports both slipped in March, but the country's trade surplus rose to $351 million from $273 million in February.

That's the fifth consecutive month of a surplus, the longest continuous stretch we've seen since before the recession.  

The agency says exports edged down 0.4 per cent to $39.5 billion with shipments of energy products leading the decline.    Imports decreased 0.6 per cent to $39.1 billion amid lower imports of energy products and industrial goods and materials.   

Exports to the United States — Canada's biggest market — fell 2.1 per cent to $28.7 billion, the third consecutive monthly decrease.   

Meanwhile, imports from the U.S. declined 1.4 per cent to $24.1 billion as our trade surplus with the Americans decreased to $4.6 billion in March from $4.9 billion in February.   

Exports to countries other than the United States rose 4.5 per cent to $10.8 billion and imports increased 0.8 per cent to $15.1 billion, narrowing the trade deficit with those countries to $4.3 billion from $4.6 billion in February.

With files from CBC News