Canada's merchandise trade surplus grew to $3 billion in October as imports fell and exports edged higher, Statistics Canada said Wednesday.

The result compared with a revised surplus of $1.1 billion in September.

BMO economist Shelly Kaushik said the trade surplus improved in October, but that beyond the headlines, the details were soft. 

"For now, it looks like trade could add to growth in the fourth quarter, though we believe that the broader economy is poised to continue struggling through year end," she wrote in a report.

The October trade figures showed imports fell 2.8 per cent for the month to $63 billion as imports of metal and non-metallic mineral products dropped 14.7 per cent and motor vehicles and parts moved down 5.8 per cent.

On the flip side, exports of goods rose 0.1 per cent in October to $66 billion.

The move came as exports of aircraft and other transportation equipment and parts gained 15 per cent, offset by a 1.2 per cent drop in exports of energy produces and a 3.5 per cent decline in basic and industrial chemical, plastic and rubber products.

In volume terms, imports in October fell 3.2 per cent, while export volumes edged down 0.1 per cent.

Regionally, Statistics Canada said exports to countries other than the United States rose 3.9 per cent, while imports fell 0.9 per cent, to result in a trade deficit with countries other than the United States of $9.1 billion in October compared with a deficit of $9.9 billion in September.

Canadian exports to the United States fell 1.0 per cent in October, while imports dropped 3.9 per cent, to result in a trade surplus with the United States of $12.1 billion in October compared with $11.0 billion in September.

In a separate release, Statistics Canada said the country's monthly international trade in services deficit was $1.3 billion in October compared with a deficit of $1.4 billion in September, as imports of services fell 0.5 per cent to $17.7 billion and exports of services rose 0.3 per cent to $16.4 billion.

When international trade in goods and services are combined, Canada's trade balance with the world was a surplus of $1.7 billion in October compared with a deficit of $288 million in September.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 6, 2023.