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Canada's merchandise trade surplus narrowed in February as imports rose at a faster pace than exports and some border crossings between Canada and the U.S. were blocked by protests.
Statistics Canada said Tuesday the country's trade surplus edged down to $2.7 billion in February from a revised $3.1 billion the month before.
The lower surplus came as merchandise imports were up 3.9 per cent to $56.1 billion in February while exports rose a more modest 2.8 per cent to $58.7 billion.
The increase in imports followed a sharp 7.5 per cent decline in January, with gains posted in nine of 11 product sections.
Statistics Canada said imports of metal and non-metallic mineral products increased 14.3 per cent, due in part to uncertainty about the future supply of metals from Russia.
Overall imports of consumer goods rose 2.5 per cent in February, mainly on rising prices, according to the federal statistics agency.
Import values for clothing, footwear and accessories jumped 13.6 per cent, but Statistics Canada said imports in this category have been unstable over the past two years due to the pandemic and constraints on international transportation.
By country, imports from China had the strongest growth by far, up 26.9 per cent. Many products contributed to this increase, including imports of pharmaceutical products like COVID-19 testing kits, Statistics Canada said.
The agency noted that some border crossings between Canada and the United States were blocked by protesters in February, preventing the normal flow of goods between the two countries.
Canada's highway border crossings at the Ambassador Bridge in Ontario, Coutts, Alta., Emerson, Man., and the Pacific Highway in British Columbia represent more than one-third of the country's trade activity by road, according to Statistics Canada data.
Trade activity at these border crossings fell 8.8 per cent compared to the same month last year, with the Ambassador Bridge and Coutts crossings posting the largest declines, the agency said.
However, increased trade activity was noted at other crossings near the ones that were blocked, partly offsetting the decline in traffic.
Meanwhile, exports were up in eight of 11 product sections, with energy products rising 7.8 per cent to a record $15.4 billion in February.
Statistics Canada said exports of aircraft and other transportation equipment and parts rebounded 54 per cent in February after declining 32.9 per cent in January.
Aircraft exports alone more than tripled in February, in large part due to higher exports of private jets and commercial aircraft, the agency said.