Canada’s merchandise trade deficit narrowed in December as imports fell faster than exports, adding to the year’s record shortfall, government figures showed.
The deficit of C$901 million ($903 million) reported by Statistics Canada from Ottawa today was smaller than the C$1.45 billion predicted in a Bloomberg economist survey. Today’s report also lowered November’s estimated deficit to C$1.67 billion from C$1.96 billion.
Canada has recorded nine consecutive trade deficits, and the central bank has said the export recovery is the slowest since World War II, hobbled by a strong currency and inconsistent global demand. Governor Mark Carney said last month the case for raising his policy interest rate from 1 percent was “less imminent” as he cut his 2013 growth forecast.
Exports fell by 0.9 percent to C$37.6 billion in December, led by energy and automobiles. Imports fell 2.8 percent to C$38.5 billion.
The annual trade deficit was a record C$12.0 billion based on preliminary Statistics Canada figures, exceeding the previous record of C$10.8 billion in 2010.
The surplus with the U.S. narrowed to C$3.53 billion in December from C$3.84 billion a month earlier. The deficit with countries other than the U.S. narrowed to C$4.43 billion from C$5.51 billion.
The volume of exports declined 2.1 percent and import volumes fell 2.7 percent, Statistics Canada said. Volume figures adjust for price changes and can be a better indicator of how trade contributes to economic growth.