Canada’s trade performance was strong in 2015, with the country’s export engine working hard to counteract the external challenges. While nominal exports of goods fell marginally, real goods exports expanded 3.4 percent, in particular through energy exports, which rose 5.7 percent; volume-wise, Canada has never exported as much oil as it did last year. The opposite situation occurred for imports: nominal imports of goods grew 4.4 percent while real imports increased by just 0.2 percent. In account balance terms, the goods trade surplus of 2014 reverted to a deficit in 2015. For services, exports grew faster than imports, but not enough to narrow the services trade deficit, which widened slightly. Overall, the trade deficit for both goods and services expanded in 2015, leading to a widening in the current account deficit from $44.9 billion in 2014 to $65.7 billion in 2015.
Canadian investors decreased their outflows of FDI into mining and oil and gas extraction, management of companies and enterprises, and trade and transportation in 2015, but increased their outflows of FDI across all other sectors. FDI outflows increased the most in finance and insurance (up 393.6 percent), followed by manufacturing (up 155.4 percent), and other industries (up 118.0 percent).
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Though exports grew faster than the imports of services, greater value of the latter meant that the deficit in the balance of services trade widened slightly from $23.4 billion to $23.8 billion in 2014. Canada continued to run a services deficit with every key region, though over 70 percent of its total deficit stemmed from its travel services deficit (which amounted to $17.0 billion in 2015). The balance of the services deficit can be traced to the large and growing deficits in water transportation services ($8.7 billion in 2015), which represents the international shipping industry services provided to Canada.
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Economic growth in the eurozone improved considerably last year, with its trade doing better and its territorial integrity still intact. Although continuing to face financial and political risks in the future, the union so far has shown considerable resilience in face of the challenges on the migration and security front. A strong position of the European Central Bank prevents the re-emergence of sovereign risks and uncertainty prevalent in earlier years. While the third Greek bailout eased tensions, the economic issues related to Greece have not yet been fundamentally addressed and will have to be dealt with in the future. Growth is picking up as the fiscal drag disappears, but the influence of external events and risks will continue to exert considerable influence on the path of this region. Historically, a large portion of Canada’s trade and investment is tied to the eurozone, rooted in shared norms, values and history. Its importance is underscored by the recent signing of the Canada-EU Comprehensive and Economic Trade Agreement (CETA), and the region will remain a key part of Canada’s commerce for decades to come.
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Mexico rebounded from its 2013 slowdown, with renewed consumer strength and booming trade volumes, and is projected to generate stable growth tied closely to that of the United States over the medium term. Mexico’s commercial role within NAFTA continues to increase, and it is a key supplier for Canada in the automotive, electric and electronic machinery, and mechanical machinery sectors. Mexico is the third-highest import supplier to Canada, providing as much merchandise as Germany and japan combined. Development and structural reforms are expected to open further opportunities for Canadian businesses in Mexico, and its geographical proximity should ensure that these opportunities are long-lasting. Canada’s exports to Mexico rose significantly in 2015.
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As the region is of particular interest to Canada’s trade policy, with a number of trade and investment protection agreements signed in recent years, Canadian businesses are likely to explore the numerous opportunities given by these agreements in the coming years, and the signing of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement may provide an additional push for commercial activities in the LAC region.