Statistics Canada building and signs are pictured in Ottawa on Wednesday, July 3, 2019. Statistics Canada says the country's merchandise trade balance slipped into a small deficit in November as energy exports fell. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Statistics Canada reports $41M merchandise trade deficit for November

Canada’s merchandise trade balance slipped into a small deficit in November as energy exports fell amid lower prices, Statistics Canada said Thursday.

The agency said trade balance came in at a deficit of $41 million for November compared with a revised surplus of $130 million in October.

CIBC senior economist Andrew Grantham said the weakness in exports and imports during November appeared to largely reflect lower energy prices and monthly volatility within areas such as pharmaceutical products.

“However, there are some signposts of weakening global and domestic demand as well, particularly the decline in imports of toys and games suggesting that more discretionary goods spending is weakening in line with the rise in interest rates,” Grantham wrote in a report.

Total exports fell 2.3 per cent in November to $64.4 billion as exports of energy products fell 4.7 per cent. Coal exports fell 24.3 per cent, while natural gas exports dropped 13.1 per cent and crude oil and bitumen exports lost 1.8 per cent. Exports of refined petroleum energy products moved down 7.9 per cent.

Exports of consumer goods also fell 6.3 per cent, while motor vehicles and parts lost 6.4 per cent.

Excluding energy products, overall exports were down 1.5 per cent.

Meanwhile, imports fell 2.1 per cent in November to $64.4 billion as consumer goods imports fell 5.7 per cent, weighed down by a 11.5 per cent drop in pharmaceutical and medicinal products. Imports of miscellaneous goods and supplies also fell 9.6 per cent, partly because of lower imports of toys and games.

Imports of metal and non-metallic mineral products dropped 7.9 per cent in November.

In volume terms, total exports fell 1.4 per cent in November, while imports were down 0.7 per cent.

Regionally, Canada’s trade deficit with countries other than the U.S. was $7.3 billion in November compared with $8.4 billion in October as imports from China fell.

The country’s merchandise trade surplus with the U.S. was $7.3 billion in November compared with $8.6 billion in October as exports to the U.S. fell 2.6 per cent and imports from edged down 0.1 per cent.

In a separate report, Statistics Canada said the country’s monthly international trade in services deficit narrowed to $1.4 billion in November compared with $2.1 billion in October. Exports of services rose 2.0 per cent to $14.1 billion, while imports fell 2.3 per cent to $15.5 billion.

When international trade in goods and services were combined, the agency said Canada’s trade deficit was $1.5 billion in November compared with $1.9 billion in October.

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