Higher oil prices lead to lower merchandise trade deficit

Total exports rose 0.8% for the month, mainly on higher crude oil prices, while total imports declined 0.4% due to fewer aircraft imports.

They attributed a majority of the positive gains to higher energy prices.

Exports to the United States rose 3.3 percent in July to 38.4 billion Canadian dollars (29 billion US dollars) while American imports edged down 0.1 percent to 33.1 billion Canadian dollars (25 billion USA dollars).

The tariffs effectively shut down imports of USA maple syrup, which dropped 97 percent between June and July, to only C$112,881 ($85,567.77), the data showed.

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Exports rose 0.8% in nominal terms but fell 0.8% in volume terms.

The trade surplus fell to a seasonally adjusted A$1.55 billion in July from A$1.94 billion in June. Oil exports were helped by a 9.4 percent rise in prices.

Royce Mendes, an economist with CIBC Economics, said a surprise reduction in the trade deficit actually masked what were not so great details in the report.

The trade report came as Canadian and American negotiators resumed talks in Washington, D.C., following a four-day break from last week's intense efforts to reach agreement on revising the North American Free Trade Agreement.

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It represents Canada's biggest monthly trade surplus with the United States, its largest trading partner since October 2008. Statistics Canada said gains in global exports were led by automobiles and energy, nearly all of which are bound for the U.S.

Imports of steel goods subject to a 25 percent tariff dropped 39.6 percent to C$368.6 million between June and July, after rising 32.7 percent in June.

"On balance, the Canadian trade data has looked somewhat better in recent months". Imports of aluminum products targeted with a 10 percent duty dipped 5.2 percent in July.

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