Increases in imports of energy products, car parts, aircraft and other transportation equipment helped pushed Canada's trade deficit up slightly in August to $1.3 billion, from $1.2 billion in the previous month.

Imports grew to $41.1 billion in August, with volumes of products growing by 1.2 per cent and prices rising 0.9 per cent, Statistics Canada said Tuesday.

Exports also increased but not as much, growing to $39.8 billion, with volumes increasing by 1.4 per cent over July and prices edging up 0.4 per cent.

"Energy products and metal and non-metallic mineral products were the main contributors to the increase in exports," Statistics Canada said.

Trade gaps with U.S., other countries widen

The U.S. again accounted for the bulk of exports, with exports to the U.S. increasing 1.9 per cent from July to $30.1 billion, "their highest value since December 2011," according to the agency.

Imports from the U.S. increased only slightly in August to $26.1 billion, resulting in a widening of Canada's trade gap with the U.S. from $3.4 billion in July to $4 billion in August.

Canada's trade deficit with countries other than the U.S. also widened — from $4.6 billion in July to $5.3 billion in August — largely owing to a 5.8 per cent increase in crude oil and crude bitumen imports to $14.9 billion.

Among Canada's imports, the greatest increases in volume were seen in crude oil and crude bitumen (+21.4 per cent); refined petroleum energy products (+18.2 per cent); and aircraft and other transportation equipment  (+27.1 per cent).

August saw a recovery in exports of metal and non-metallic mineral products, which rose 8.2 per cent after an 11.7 per cent decline in July.

Volumes and prices of energy exports were also up, for a third consecutive month, with an overall increase of 4.7 per cent to $9.6 billion in August. 

There were fewer exports of farm, fishing and intermediate food products as exports in all commodity categories shrank, resulting in overall decrease of 10.6 per cent to $2.1 billion.