Canada recorded a surplus of C$923 million ($700 million) in December, Statistics Canada said in Ottawa, after a revised C$1.01 billion November surplus. Energy product exports jumped 16 percent on rising prices. That offset a decline in non-energy exports.
The recovery in oil prices at the end of last year, and the fading impact of the wildfires earlier in 2016, helped produce the country’s best trade performance since the beginning of the oil shock in 2014. Canada’s trade balance swung to a C$612 million surplus in the last three months of 2016, the first quarterly trade surplus since 2014, from a deficit of C$8.6 billion in the third quarter.
It was a strong end to a tough year overall for trade. Canada’s annual merchandise trade deficit widened to a record C$26.1 billion in 2016, from C$23 billion a year earlier.
One area of concern remains non-energy exports, which were down 2.1 percent in December. That was driven by a 5.2 percent drop in shipments from the motor vehicle industry, whose exports fell to the lowest since June 2015. Energy exports exceeded motor vehicle-related shipments in December for the first time in more than a year.
As a result, Canada’s trade surplus with the U.S. actually narrowed to C$4.42 billion in December from C$4.74 billion a month earlier.