Business

January marks 3rd straight month of trade surplus, longest streak since 2014

Canada's trade surplus rose to $807 million in January, the third month in a row that the country exported more to the rest of the world than it imported.

Exports of canola and car parts surge while imports decline

Chinese demand for Canadian canola has pushed exports of the commodity to a record $845 million in January. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Canada's trade surplus rose to $807 million in January, the third month in a row that the country exported more to the rest of the world than it imported.

Statistics Canada reported Tuesday that exports increased 0.5 per cent from the month earlier, led by higher shipments of motor vehicles and canola.

Strong demand from China pushed Canadian canola exports to a record high of $845 million, up 38.4 per cent and more than double October's figure.

Exports of motor vehicles and parts rose by 7.7 per cent. Exports to the U.S., where three quarters of everything Canada makes ultimately goes, grew by 2.3 per cent during the month, pushing Canada's surplus with the U.S. alone to $4.52 billion from $3.82 billion.

"Strong U.S. demand – stemming in part from an expected uptick businesses investment – combined with the Canadian dollar hovering in the mid-70 US cent range throughout the year, should bode well for Canadian-made goods," TD Bank economist Dina Ignatiovic said. "Of course, the potential for protectionist measures to be implemented south of the border presents some downside risk to this outlook."

Exports surged, while imports decreased by 0.3 per cent.

Three straight months of surplus is the longest streak since 2014, before the devastating collapse in oil prices pulled the rug out from under the Canadian economy.

"Canada's trade picture has improved meaningfully in recent months, with a welcome return to surpluses after a couple years of consistent deficits," BMO economist Benjamin Reitzes noted.

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