| OTTAWA, June 2
OTTAWA, June 2 Canadian exports climbed to a
record in April and first-quarter labor productivity approached
a three-year high, further evidence that the economy is
recovering after a long slump caused by low oil prices.
Statistics Canada said on Friday that the April trade
deficit narrowed to C$370 million ($274 million) as exports
outpaced imports for a second straight month on shipments of
motor vehicles and parts.
After struggling for years to adjust to sharply lower prices
of crude oil, Canada's economy appears finally to be on a
sustainable path to recovery.
In particular, the export sector, long a cause of concern
for the Bank of Canada, is showing strength.
"The Bank of Canada has been looking for that for the length
of 2016 but has been largely disappointed, but maybe it is
starting to materialize as we move into 2017," said Paul Ferley,
assistant chief economist at Royal Bank of Canada.
Exports, which jumped 3.2 percent in March, increased by 1.8
percent in April to C$47.69 billion. Exports of motor vehicles
and parts grew 4.4 percent while energy shipments posted a 2.5
"It's a very strong trend... we see this continuing because
there is strong U.S. growth," said Ross Prusakowski, a senior
economist at Export Development Canada.
Imports also hit a record high, edging up 0.6 percent to
C$48.06 billion - the fifth consecutive monthly increase -
thanks in part to increased inflows of consumer goods,
electronic and electrical equipment and parts.
In a note to clients, CIBC economist Nick Exarhos said
"trade is likely to be a more significant source of growth in
the second quarter than it has in recent quarters".
Figures released this week show first-quarter annualized
growth of 3.7 percent, the best in the Group of Seven leading
The Canadian dollar strengthened slightly to C$1.3505 to the
U.S. dollar, or 74.05 U.S. cents, up from C$1.3526, or 73.93
Exports to the United States, which accounted for 75.7
percent of all Canadian exports in April, soared 5.4 percent
while imports grew 1.1 percent.
As a result, Canada's trade surplus with the United States
expanded to C$4.95 billion - the largest since May 2014 - from
C$3.44 billion in March.
Separately, Statscan said the labor productivity of
businesses grew 1.4 percent in the first quarter, the most in
almost three years.
(With additional reporting by Fergal Smith in Toronto; Editing
by Bernadette Baum)