According to Statistics Canada, that atypical plant closures in January were responsible for the fall in imports of motor vehicle engines and parts, while the resumption of the collection of import duties by the U.S. Department of Commerce likely added to the decline in export of forestry related products. Imports dropped 4.3 percent, owing to declines in industrial machinery, equipment, and parts, while exports fell 2.1 percent, due to falls in the export of passenger cars and light trucks.
Trade deficit of Canada narrowed in the month of January. The trade deficit for December was revised. While there were fewer imports in just about every sector compared to December, on an annual basis imports have still risen by two per cent overall.
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In real terms (or in volume), total imports fell 3.9% in January and real exports were down 3.6%. January was the sixth consecutive monthly increase for that sector, and they're now up by nearly 30 per cent from the level seen last summer.
Despite the numbers, "we probably shouldn't read too much into a single month of declines in imports and exports", says Grantham, noting that market reaction was limited after the report was released. If energy is stripped out, they're actually down by more than twice that.
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Trade between Canada and the United States has become a bugaboo for the current USA administration, with President Donald Trump railing about Canada's trade surplus with the United States.
The "soft recent trend in exports, and the greater uncertainty for the future resulting from USA tariffs" give reason for the Bank of Canada to "sound less enthused on the outlook" at its rate decision this morning, Grantham says. Import prices fell 0.4%, while export prices grew 1.5%.
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But those figures only include trade in goods.