Ottawa, Apr 5 (AFP) Canada posted a 2.7 billion Canadian dollar (USD2.1 billion) trade deficit in February, as trade with its neighbor the United States increased, the government announced today.

After two consecutive monthly decreases in bilateral trade, imports from the United States rose by 3.3 percent mostly on higher imports of aircraft, while exports increased 1.9 percent, as more Canadian-built passenger cars and trucks were shipped south of the border.

As a result, Canada’s trade surplus with the United States narrowed from 2.9 billion dollar in January to 2.6 billion dollar in February.

The two nations, along with Mexico, are racing to wrap up negotiations to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement by month’s end, before upcoming US and Mexican elections.

Overall imports in February, according to Statistics Canada, increased 1.9 percent to 48.6 billion dollar while exports edged up 0.4 percent to 45.9 billion dollar.

Analysts had forecast a 2.2 billion dollar deficit after a 1.9 billion dollar deficit in January.

Canada imported more crude oil and bitumen in February, with a larger share coming from the United States.

Demand in westernmost Canada also pushed up motor gasoline imports.

After plant shutdowns at the start of 2018, motor vehicle engines and parts imports rebounded. Canada also imported more passenger cars and light trucks from India and Mexico.

Imports of gold, however, fell with disruptions in mining activities particularly in Argentina and the Dominican Republic affecting imports of bullion and unwrought gold.

Meanwhile, increases in exports of motor vehicles and parts, and aircraft and other transportation equipment and parts were largely offset by lower exports of farm, fishing and intermediate food products, and of metal and non-metallic mineral products.

Exports of aircraft to Latvia and Hong Kong primarily accounted for the increase in that category.

Farm, fishing and intermediate food products were down 17.2 percent to 2.4 billion dollar — the largest decline on record, said the governmental statistical agency.

Exports of wheat (-41.6 percent) and canola (-40.1 percent) were responsible for the drop in the section. This coincided with a slowdown in rail transportation of agricultural goods.

There were also lower shipments of unwrought gold to Britain in the month. (AFP) CPS 04052042

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.