Stacks of lumber are seen at the Teal-Jones Group sawmill in Surrey, British Columbia on May 30, 2021.

DARRYL DYCK / The Canadian Press

Canada posted its first quarterly current account surplus in 13 years thanks to soaring exports, especially lumber and energy products.

Statistics Canada declared a surplus of $ 1.2 billion for the first three months of 2021, compared to a revised deficit of $ 5.3 billion in the fourth quarter of 2020. The current account measures Canada’s trade balance with the rest. of the world.

This shift into positive territory, the first since 2008, was supported by the strengthening of commodity prices. Energy exports rose $ 6.8 billion in the quarter, as the price of oil hit pre-pandemic levels and the price of natural gas surged after winter storms and power outages in the southern United States in February.

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Exports of forest products increased by $ 1.4 billion due to soaring timber prices. Canada also had an unusually strong quarter for aircraft exports, after an airline pulled a number of planes from its fleet and sold them to buyers in the United States in January.

“The goods trade balance returned to a modest deficit in March, but we expect another (smaller) surplus for the second quarter as global economies reopened and commodity prices continued to rise.” , wrote Bank of Montreal economist Shelly Kaushik in a note.

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On trade in services, Canada has maintained a small surplus over the past four quarters, even as the general level of trade has been depressed during the pandemic. Travel restrictions have hurt Canadian tourism businesses, but they have also limited Canadian spending abroad.

“Look for modest surpluses over the next few quarters, until the borders reopen and Canadians start spending their money overseas again,” Ms. Kaushik wrote.

As for the financial account, which measures international investment, foreign direct investment in Canada reached $ 19.6 billion in the quarter, the highest level since the second quarter of 2019, with most of the money going the energy, mining and manufacturing sectors. In contrast, foreign direct investment by Canadian businesses to other countries totaled $ 10.5 billion in the quarter.

Canadians continued to acquire a large number of foreign securities, purchasing $ 37.4 billion of foreign stocks and bonds in the quarter. These investments were “largely stocks of large-cap technology companies and stocks of investment funds that tracked broad market indices,” Statscan said.

Conversely, foreign investment in Canadian securities slowed to $ 12.7 billion in the quarter, compared to $ 21.9 billion in the previous quarter.

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“Non-residents have invested heavily in Canadian stocks, but have reduced their holdings of debt securities. This was the first divestment of Canadian debt securities since the fourth quarter of 2018, ”said Statscan.

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