Canada has recorded its first annual trade deficit in 34 years.
According to Statistics Canada, Canada imported $4.8 billion more than it exported in 2009—the first time such a thing has happened since 1975.
In 2008, Canada recorded a trade surplus of $47 billion.
Analysts chalk the gap to the effects of the global recession and drooping commodity prices.
Statistics Canada has also released monthly international trade figures for December.
Canada’s trade deficit was $246 million in December. Source: Statistics Canada. Click the image to enlarge.
With automotive products leading the charge, Canada’s imports and exports each increased over the course of the month.
Imports were up 1.8 percent from November, while exports climbed 1.7 percent, leaving Canada with a $246 million trade deficit with the world—up from $201 million a month earlier.
In December, imports increased to $32.4 billion, an increase from $31.9 billion in November. This was the result of a 1.1 percent increase in volumes and a 0.7 percent uptick in prices.
Automotive products were largely responsible for the growth in imports, climbing six percent in December and continuing an upward trend that started in June 2009.
Imports of industrial goods and materials climbed three percent, while imports of energy products were up 5.4 percent.
On the other side of the ledger, imports of machinery and equipment dropped 2.4 percent.
Overall, imports remained 9.1 percent below December 2008 levels.
In December, exports continued the general growth trajectory that started in May 2009.
As was the case with imports, automotive products were a main contributor, with exports increasing 8.1 percent.
Exports of machinery and equipment grew 3.4 percent, while energy products were up 1.5 percent.
Moderating the overall growth were exports of industrial goods and materials, which fell 1.1 percent.
All told, December’s exports were eight percent below values recorded in December 2008.
“December’s figure rounds out the last quarter of 2009 in which the trade deficit improved slightly from $18.5 billion in the third quarter to $17.6 billion at annual rates in the fourth quarter. Thus, net trade will add to growth when fourth quarter GDP data is released later this month, but will likely be a drag beyond that,” commented Francis Fong, an economist with TD Economics.