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Canadians’ cross-border shopping boosts travel deficit

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Canada's international travel deficit with the rest of the world rose by $91-million to $4.2-billion in the second quarter, possibly helped along by increased cross-border shopping in the United States, Statistic Canada said Wednesday.

Overall, Canadian travellers increased their spending outside the country by 1.5 per cent to about $8.5-billion.

Spending by foreign visitors to Canada increased 0.8 per cent to about $4.4-billion, the highest level since the fourth quarter of 2004.

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Canada's travel deficit with the United States increased by $45-million to $3.3-billion in the second quarter as Canadians increased spending south of the border by 1.3 per cent to $5.2 billion.

American travellers spent $1.9-billion in Canada, also up 1.3 per cent from the previous quarter and the highest amount since the fourth quarter of 2008.

"The increase in payments (in the U.S.) coincided with an advance in overnight travel by Canadian residents to the United States," Statistics Canada said in a release.

"The number of overnight trips by automobile rose 2.2 per cent to 3.4 million, the highest quarterly level since the third quarter of 1992," it said, noting that as of June 1 the duty-free exemptions for Canadians returning from trips abroad had increased.

Statistics Canada recently reported that Canadians took nearly 2.8 million overnight trips abroad in June alone – the highest monthly figure in four decades.

That was up 5.7 per cent compared with May, with the boost coming from more trips to both the United States and to overseas countries.

For those away from the country for 24 hours or more, the increase in the amount of duty-free goods that can be brought back went from $50 to $200. For those residents away 48 hours or more, the change was to $800 from $400.

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Meanwhile, Statistics Canada said Canadian travellers overseas spent $3.4-billion in the second quarter, up 1.7 per cent from the previous quarter.

Spending by overseas visitors to Canada rose 0.4 per cent to $2.5-billion.

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