Steel wire products are seen in Richmond, British Columbia -- Canada's exports of metal and non-metallic mineral products fell in September 2019

Ottawa (AFP) - Canadians traded less with the world in September while its trade deficit narrowed to Can$978 million (US$744 million), the government statistical agency said Tuesday.

The figure was down from a Can$1.2 billion shortfall (revised upward) in the previous month, and wider than economists expected.

The declines in trade were fairly broad-based.

Total imports fell 1.7 percent to Can$50.8 billion in September, but were still up for the first nine months of the year, said Statistics Canada.

Gold contributed most to the drop, with imports of gold for refining down mainly on lower shipments from Peru, Japan and Brazil.

Imports of iron and steel products were also lower. These have yet to show a “significant rebound” since the United States lifted steel and aluminum tariffs in May, the agency said.

But copper ore imports returned to levels similar to July after a sharp uptick in imports from the Philippines in August.

Lower imports of transportation equipment parts from Belgium and Swiss pharmaceuticals, meanwhile, were partially offset by higher imports of cellphones from China and various products from Britain.

Total exports fell 1.3 percent to Can$49.8 billion in September, largely offsetting an increase in August.

Exports of metals and non-metallic mineral products dropped 7.3 percent. Exports of refined gold fell in September, largely eliminating gains in July and August. This was partially offset by higher exports of gold articles.

Crude oil volumes fell for a second consecutive month following a July peak, coinciding with a cut in Canadian North Atlantic oil platform production.

Canola exports fell almost 50 percent, reaching their lowest level in more than six years after China blocked imports.

Soybeans exports also decreased in the month. But more transportation equipment was exported to Saudi Arabia.