Canada exported $79 million more worth of goods and services in March than it imported, official data from Statistics Canada shows.
Exports declined by 1.4 per cent while imports increased by 0.4 per cent. That narrowed the country's trade surplus to $79 million for the month, down from $847 million in February but still in positive territory.
The drop looks even bigger because February's large number is a revision from what was previously reported, a $290 million surplus.
The drop in exports is nothing to worry about, TD economist Leslie Preston said in a note, because it came on the heels of a large jump of 5.9 per cent the previous month. "Moreover, the export decline was all due to falling prices (largely oil and natural gas), with volumes holding steady," she said in a note to clients.
The main thing dragging down exports was a drop-off in energy products, which was to be expected "after three months of significant gains, when cold weather south of the border pulled in higher-than-usual energy imports from Canada," Preston noted.
A country's trade surplus (or trade deficit) is the sum total of every dollar of GDP that the country exported, versus every dollar imported. Although opinions differ on whether a surplus or deficit is better, it's seen as a very high-level view on the nature of a country's economy.
Canada historically posted large trade surpluses for most of the 20th century, before swinging into trade deficit in the recession of 2008. The economy has seesawed between surplus and deficit ever since.