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A shipping container is moved at the Port of Montreal on Aug. 23, 2020.The Canadian Press

Canada’s merchandise trade deficit grew to $3.3 billion in September as both exports and imports climbed higher, but remained below their pre-pandemic levels, Statistics Canada said Wednesday.

The agency said the September reading compared with a deficit of $3.2 billion in August.

Economists on average had expected a $2.6-billion deficit for September, according to financial data firm Refinitiv.

“The uneven recovery in Canadian international trade flows continued in September although the pace of improvement in international trade has flattened out after the initial rapid rebound in June and July,” RBC senior economist Nathan Janzen wrote in report.

Statistics Canada said exports rose 1.5 per cent in September to $45.5 billion, while the gained 1.2 per cent in volume terms.

Exports of forestry products and building and packaging materials rose 10.4 per cent in September as higher prices helped boost lumber exports 23.0 per cent to reach $1.6 billion, the highest level in 14 years.

Exports of aircraft and other transportation equipment and parts rose 13.4 per cent.

Meanwhile, imports rose 1.5 per cent in September to $48.8 billion as they gained 0.6 per cent in volume terms.

Imports of energy products rose 28.8 per cent in September as crude oil imports rose 87.1 per cent to top the $1-billion mark for the first time since March as Canadian refineries bought more crude oil from Louisiana.

Statistics Canada said imports for crude oil were on average $1.6 billion per month in 2019, but that dropped to $563 million between April and August this year.

Canada’s trade surplus with the United States fell to $2.0 billion in September compared with $2.9 billion in August as exports to the country’s largest trading partner fell 1.6 per cent and imports from south of the border rose 1.2 per cent.

Canada’s trade deficit with countries other than the United States fell to $5.3 billion in September compared with a deficit of $6.1 billion in August.

In September, Statistics Canada said monthly service exports fell 2.5 per cent to $9.1 billion, while service imports rose 1.2 per cent to $9.1 billion.

Canada’s trade deficit with the world for goods and services combined was $3.2 billion in September.

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