Canada merchandise trade surplus increased to $1.9 billion in April, helped by higher exports of gold, oil and cars and light trucks, Statistics Canada said Wednesday.

The result followed a revised surplus of $231 million in March. The agency's initial reading for March released last month had indicated a surplus of $972 million.

Exports for April rose 2.5 per cent to $64.8 billion as exports of metal and non-metallic mineral products gained 13.6 per cent, lifted higher by a 46.0 per cent gain in unwrought gold.

Exports of energy products gained 6.4 per cent as higher prices helped lift crude oil exports 7.1 per cent. Exports by the motor vehicles and parts sector rose 7.4 per cent as exports of passenger cars and light trucks gained 7.7 per cent and engines and parts added 9.9 per cent.

Meanwhile, imports in April fell 0.2 per cent to $62.9 billion as imports of energy products fell 12.8 per cent with crude oil imports down 20.5 per cent, in part due to lower shipments from Saudi Arabia and the United States.

In volume terms, total exports rose 2.8 per cent to top their pre-pandemic levels and hit an all-time high, while imports gained 1.0 per cent.

"For now, real trade flows look to support growth in the second quarter, though we've still got another couple of months of data and revisions to go," BMO economist Shelly Kaushik wrote in a report.

The increase in the trade surplus came as exports to the U.S. rose 4.4 per cent, while imports from the country's largest trading partner fell 0.4 per cent, to increase Canada's trade surplus with the U.S. to $9.5 billion in April compared with $7.2 billion in March.

Canada's merchandise trade deficit with countries other than the U.S. was $7.5 billion in April compared with $7.0 billion in March.

In a separate report, Statistics Canada said the country's international trade in services deficit increased to $1.2 billion in April compared with $1.1 billion in March as exports of services fell 0.5 per cent to $14.4 billion and service imports were essentially unchanged at $15.6 billion. 

When the country's international trade in goods and services are combined, Canada's trade balance with the world stood at a surplus of $779 million in April compared with a deficit of $853 million in March.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 7, 2023.