Business

Trade deficit narrowed to $955M in August as Canada sold more oil and jets

The gap between what Canada buys from the rest of the world and what it sells narrowed to just under $1 billion in August, as increased shipments of energy and jets drove exports to more than $50 billion.

Canada shipped out more energy and planes during the month, rebalancing the trade gap a little

The interior of a Canadian-made business jet is shown. The country exported a lot more of this type of jet in August, which helped boost total exports to more than $50 billion. (Christinne Muschi/Reuters)

The gap between what Canada buys from the rest of the world and what it sells narrowed to just under $1 billion in August, as higher exports of energy and aircraft drove exports to more than $50 billion.

Statistics Canada reported Friday that Canada's merchandise trade deficit narrowed to $955 million in August, down from $1.4 billion the previous month as exports rose by 1.8 per cent while imports only increased by 1 per cent.

Canada exported just shy of $50.6 billion during the month. That's the fifth highest monthly total ever, which was set in May when the country saw a surge in car and car part exports.

So far in 2019, total exports are on track to be 2.4 per cent higher than they were last year.

Exports of energy products led the way, with crude oil up 2.9 per cent after two straight monthly declines. Exports of nuclear fuel more than doubled during the month, while refined petroleum products increased by 13 per cent from July's level.

Aircraft exports also surged, up 38.7 per cent mainly because of a flurry of business jet sales to the U.S.

While they were a source of strength earlier in the year, exports of cars and car parts declined by 2.3 per cent. Car and truck exports were lower "as a result of prolonged summer shutdowns at certain assembly plants," the data agency said.

Imports rose too

On the other side of the ledger, Canada imported $51.5 billion during the month, up 1 per cent. Imports of gold rose to their highest level in two years, and energy exports also surged 9.7 per cent as a result of higher imports of crude oil because of shutdowns on offshore oil platforms.

While Canada has a trade deficit with the rest of the world, the country's trade surplus with the U.S. got even wider during the month. Exports to the United States rose 3.1 per cent in August, while imports were up 1.8 per cent, pushing the trade gap to just shy of $5 billion on the merchandise. The merchandise trade balance doesn't include trade in services, however — just goods and raw materials

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