OTTAWA -- Canada posted a merchandise trade surplus for a second consecutive month in February, the first time that's happened since late 2016.

Statistics Canada said Wednesday the trade surplus for the month was $1 billion, down from a revised surplus of $1.2 billion in January, as both exports and imports fell.

TD Bank economist Omar Abdelrahman said the pullback in exports for February was not surprising following a strong January and unusually strong gains in the volatile aircraft category.

"Similarly, weakness was expected in auto production due to the global shortage in semiconductor chips," Abdelrahman wrote in a report.

However he said the overall outlook for Canadian trade, exports in particular, has brightened in 2021.

"Merchandise exports should remain supported by firm commodity prices/demand, the reopening of economies, and a strengthening economic outlook for Canada's largest trading partner, the U.S.," Abdelrahman wrote.

The February surplus came as total exports fell 2.7 per cent to $49.9 billion in February, after climbing 8.2 per cent in January.

The decrease came as exports of metal and non-metallic mineral products, motor vehicles and parts, and aircraft and other transportation equipment and parts fell.

On the other side of the equation, total imports dropped 2.4 per cent in February to $48.8 billion, their lowest level since August 2020.

Imports of motor vehicles and parts fell 7.8 per cent, while energy products dropped 21.4 per cent following a 22.8 per cent increase in January.

In real or volume terms, total exports fell 3.8 per cent, while imports dropped 3.5 per cent.

In a separate report, Statistics Canada said international trade-in-services posted a surplus of $79 million in February compared with a deficit of $236 million in January.

Imports of services fell 4.9 per cent to $9.1 billion and exports of services dropped 1.6 per cent to $9.1 billion.

Canada's trade surplus for goods and services combined was $1.1 billion in February.