Canada’s world merchandise trade deficit narrowed from $1.6 billion in October to $1.1 billion in November, Statistics Canada reported Tuesday.

Merchandise exports declined 1.4 per cent in November to $48.7 billion, while imports were down 2.4 per cent to $49.8 billion.

“Widespread declines across export and import products coincided with disruptions in Canadian rail transportation,” stated StatsCan.

“Customs basis data for November (not seasonally adjusted) showed a stronger decline in trade by rail compared with data for the same month in recent years. This was particularly true for exports, where the 2019 figure was the lowest November value since 2013. Rail is also an important mode for inland shipment within Canada for goods arriving or exiting by other modes of transportation,” said the report.

After decreasing 0.4 per cent in October, exports fell a further 1.4 per cent in November, according to StatCan. The declines were in seven of 11 product sections, while non-energy exports were essentially unchanged.

Compared with the same period in 2018, total exports were up 1.5 per cent in the first 11 months in 2019. In real (or volume) terms, exports were down 2.7 per cent in November from the previous month.

“Energy products drove the overall export decrease, down 7.4 per cent on lower exports of crude oil. Export volumes were behind the crude oil decline in November, a month that was marked by disruptions in crude oil pipeline transportation following a rupture that occurred in late October.

“Partially offsetting this decrease were higher exports of natural gas (+30.7 per cent). Export prices for natural gas rose sharply in November, the third consecutive monthly increase since a low observed in August,” it said.

Imports of energy products declined 7.5 per cent in November, largely as a result of lower import volumes of natural gas. Despite the November decrease, year-to-date import values for natural gas were up 7.2 per cent compared with the same period in 2018.

“Lower imports of crude oil also contributed to the November decline in energy products as a result of a decline in prices.”

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