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GM workers use human assistance automation to weld vehicle doors at an assembly plant in Oshawa, Ont., on March 19, 2021.

Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press

Canada posted a merchandise trade surplus of $594-million in April as the global shortage of semi-conductor chips hurt both imports and exports in the auto sector.

Statistics Canada said Tuesday the result for April compared with a revised deficit of $1.3-billion in March.

TD Bank economist Omar Abdelrahman said global supply-chain disruptions haven’t been limited to Canada’s economy and that looking ahead the underlying foreign demand picture for exports remains solid.

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“Canada’s largest trading partner, the U.S., is witnessing a strong economic rebound and solid manufacturing sentiment readings, supported by an early reopening and sizable fiscal stimulus,” Mr. Abdelrahman wrote in a report.

Statistics Canada said Tuesday both imports and exports for April fell, weighed down by the auto sector, which has been hurt by a shortage of computer chips.

The worldwide shortage has forced auto companies to cut production.

Total imports to Canada fell 4.7 per cent in April to $49.6-billion as imports of motor vehicles and parts decreased 22.1 per cent. Excluding motor vehicles and parts, Statistics Canada said imports fell 1.3 per cent.

Meanwhile, total exports dropped 1.0 per cent in April to $50.2-billion as exports of motor vehicles and parts fell 18.1 per cent. Statistics Canada said excluding the motor vehicles and parts category, exports rose 1.6 per cent in April.

By region, Canada’s trade surplus with the United States increased to $6.4-billion in April from $4.2-billion in March as imports fell, but exports to the U.S. rose due to shipments of seafood products and softwood lumber.

Canada’s trade deficit with countries other than the United States was $5.8-billion in April compared with $5.5-billion in March.

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In volume terms, total imports fell 6.8 per cent in April, while total exports fell 3.5 per cent.

Statistics Canada said service exports in April fell 2.2 per cent at $9.3-billion, while service imports rose 2.2 per cent to $9.5-billion.

It said Canada’s trade surplus for goods and services combined was $368-million in April.

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