Skip to main content

File photo of a container ship preparing to pass underneath the Lions Gate Bridge.Rafal Gerszak/The Globe and Mail

Canada reported its second-largest merchandise trade deficit ever in April, narrowing from the record shortfall set in March as imports fell faster than exports.

The deficit of $2.97-billion followed a March gap that was revised to $3.85-billion from an initial $3.02-billion, Statistics Canada said Wednesday in Ottawa. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg forecast an April deficit of $2.15-billion, the median of 16 forecasts.

Imports fell 2.5 per cent to $44.9-billion on declines in consumer goods, metals and minerals.

Exports declined 0.7 per cent to $41.9-billion, the fourth straight drop and the lowest total since January 2014. Shipments of pharmaceutical products and medicine fell 28 per cent to $578-million. Forest product exports were 5 per cent lower at $3.18-billion. Energy shipments rose 5.9 per cent to $7.30-billion, bringing the drop from a year earlier to 31.6 per cent.

Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz has said the economy will regain momentum after the first quarter, when a plunge in oil prices derailed exports and investment. Last week he kept his key interest rate at 0.75 per cent. Policy makers have said faster U.S. growth and the weaker Canadian dollar will aid non– energy exports.

Canada's trade surplus with the U.S. widened to $2.42-billion in April from $1.62-billion a month earlier. The deficit with countries other than the U.S. narrowed to $5.39-billion from $5.48-billion.

The volume of exports advanced 0.5 per cent and import volumes fell 1.8 per cent in April, Statistics Canada said. Volume figures adjust for price changes and can be a better indicator of how trade contributes to economic growth.