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Canada posts $1.2B merchandise trade surplus for October: Statistics Canada

Gantry cranes tower above container ships being unloaded and loaded at port, in Vancouver, on Thursday, February 10, 2022.Statistics Canada says the country's merchandise trade surplus grew to $1.2 billion in October as exports climbed faster than imports.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

OTTAWA — Canada's merchandise trade surplus grew to $1.2 billion in October as a depreciation in the Canadian dollar helped lift the value of both exports and imports, Statistics Canada said Tuesday.

The result compared with a revised surplus of $607 million in September compared with its earlier reading of a surplus of $1.1 billion.

Statistics Canada said total exports rose 1.5 per cent to $67 billion in October as exports of consumer goods gained 9.7 per cent to $7.7 billion, lifted higher by a 20.7 per cent gain in pharmaceutical products.

Exports of farm, fishing and intermediate food products increased 10.2 per cent in October to a record $5.5 billion, boosted by exports of canola and wheat.

Meanwhile, total imports rose 0.6 per cent to $65.8 billion in October as imports of motor vehicles and parts gained 4.6 per cent to $10.3 billion.

Statistics Canada said the average value of the loonie in October fell 2.1 cents US compared with September, noting that when the Canadian dollar falls against the U.S. dollar, converted monthly trade values in Canadian dollars are higher.

When expressed in U.S dollars, the agency said Canadian exports fell 1.3 per cent in October and imports dropped 2.2 per cent.

In volume terms, total exports rose 0.1 per cent in October, while imports in volume terms fell 0.9 per cent.

CIBC senior economist Andrew Grantham said exports continue to benefit from strong demand for Canada's resources, although the slowing global economy could be starting to weigh on other areas of trade. 

"A second consecutive decline in import volumes means that net trade will likely be a big positive contributor to growth again in Q4, although it is likely a poor sign for domestic demand and further evidence that higher interest rates are starting to bite the economy," Grantham wrote in a report.

The trade report came ahead of the Bank of Canada's interest rate decision on Wednesday.

The central bank is expected by economists to raise its key interest rate target as it continues its fight to bring inflation back to its goal of two per cent, but forecasters are split in their expectations when it comes to the size of the hike.

The Bank of Canada has raised its target for the overnight rate six times this year so far taking it from 0.25 per cent at the start of the year to 3.75 per cent in October, a move that has driven the cost of borrowing higher for Canadians.

In a separate report, Statistics Canada said the country's international trade in services deficit increased to $1.9 billion in October compared with $1.8 billion in September. Imports of services gained 2.0 per cent to $15.8 billion, while exports of services rose 1.6 per cent to $13.9 billion. 

When international trade in goods and services are combined, Statistics Canada said the country's trade deficit with the world was $726 million in October compared with $1.2 billion in September.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 6, 2022.

The Canadian Press