By Christian Sivière, Solutions Import Export Logistique MC, Montréal

Canada's merchandise exports declined 1.4% in March, while imports were up 0.4%, bringing our trade surplus with the world from $847 million in February to $79 million in March.

Exports declined to $42.7 billion. Energy products were the main contributor to the decline (-7.9%), following three consecutive months of significant increases. Exports of forest products and building and packaging materials declined 7.6% while exports of metal and non-metallic mineral products rose 8%.

Imports edged up to $42.6 billion, as increases in basic and industrial chemical, plastic and rubber products (+6.3%) as well as consumer goods (+1.7%) were largely offset by declines in electronic and electrical equipment and parts (-2.6%) as well as energy products (-3.7%).

Exports to the United States declined 2.5% to $32.2 billion, mainly due to energy products, while imports from the United States rose 1% to $28.5 billion. Consequently, Canada's trade surplus with the United States narrowed from $4.9 billion in February to $3.8 billion in March.

Exports to countries other than the United States rose 2.5% to $10.5 billion, led by the European Union (+8.5%). Imports from countries other than the United States declined 0.7% to $14.2 billion. Lower imports from the principal trading area "Other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries" (-9.5%) were largely offset by higher imports from the European Union (+7.1%). Canada's trade deficit with these countries therefore went from $4 billion in February to $3.7 billion in March.

South of the border, the U.S. Census Bureau announced U.S. March exports of $193.9 billion and imports of $234.3 billion, resulting in a deficit of $40.4 billion, down from $41.9 billion in February. The February to March increase in U.S. exports reflected increases in capital goods, industrial supplies and materials, automotive vehicles and parts and foods and beverages, while consumer goods decreased. The increase in U.S. imports reflected increases in consumer goods, foods and beverages and capital goods. A decrease occurred in industrial supplies and materials, with automotive vehicles and parts virtually unchanged. The March figures showed the U.S. had surpluses with Hong Kong, Brazil, Australia and Singapore and deficits with China, the European Union, Japan, OPEC, Mexico, Canada, India, Venezuela and South Korea.

Source: Statistics Canada, U.S. Census Bureau