The deficit on international transactions in goods narrowed by $0.3 billion to $4.8 billion, as imports declined more than exports in the fourth quarter. However, for the year, the goods balance reached a record $23.6 billion deficit after posting a slight surplus in 2014. This change largely reflected a $44.8 billion decline in exports of energy products.
The goods surplus with the United States was down by $2.4 billion in the fourth quarter, mainly on lower exports of energy products. On the other hand, the trade deficit with all other countries narrowed by $2.6 billion, led by a stronger surplus with the United Kingdom.
Total exports of goods declined $2.3 billion to $131.9 billion in the quarter.Exports of energy products were down by $2.3 billion mainly on lower prices. Crude petroleum accounted for the bulk of this reduction, as exports reached their lowest level in more than five years. Crude oil prices have fallen more than 40% since the fourth quarter of 2014. Exports of aircraft and other transportation equipment fell $0.6 billion during the quarter, as a result of lower volumes. Basic and industrial chemical, plastic and rubber products also contributed to the overall decline, with exports down $0.5 billion on lower prices. Partially offsetting these reductions was a $1.0 billion gain in motor vehicles and parts, largely on higher volumes and prices for passenger cars.
Imports of goods were down $2.6 billion to $136.7 billion.
As with exports, the most notable decline was recorded in imports of energy products, which fell $1.5 billion on lower prices and volumes. Electronic and electronic equipment and parts also accounted for an important share of the decrease, declining $0.7 billion after a strong third quarter.
The overall deficit on international trade in services narrowed $0.1 billion to $5.8 billion in the fourth quarter. In the quarter, the travel deficit was down $0.1 billion to $4.0 billion as Canadians further reduced their spending in the United States. The travel deficit narrowed in each of the four quarters in 2015. The transportation services deficit also narrowed in the quarter, but the reduction was offset by a lower commercial services surplus. For 2015 as a whole, the deficit increased slightly to $23.8 billion, reflecting a reduction in the commercial services surplus, which was moderated by a lower deficit on international travel.
The investment income deficit edged up $0.1 billion to $3.4 billion in the fourth quarter. For the year as a whole, the investment income deficit narrowed by $8.3 billion to $13.4 billion, largely on lower profits earned by foreign direct investors in Canada. Profits earned by Canadian direct investors on their assets abroad were down $1.5 billion in the fourth quarter, while those earned by foreign direct investors on their Canadian assets declined $0.5 billion. At the same time, receipts from portfolio investment advanced more than payments, moderating the overall increase in the investment income deficit in the fourth quarter.
The deficit in current transfers rose $0.3 billion to $1.0 billion. Government transfer receipts were down more than payments in the quarter.