Canada has recorded its first trade deficit since 1976 — the year Microsoft and Apple Computer be­gan and Mao Zedong died — as imports drop­ped and exports dropped even faster amid a global economic downturn.

Statistics Canada reported yesterday that the country had a trade deficit of $458 million in December, a sharp reversal from a surplus of $1.2 billion in November. The deficit was the first since March 1976.

The agency said exports dropped 9.7 per cent to $35.3 billion as both prices and volumes declined. It was the steepest month-to-month decrease since October 1982.

Imports declined 5.7 per cent to $35.8 billion.

Canadian exports of everything from oil and gas to autos and agricultural goods fell, mainly because the U.S. economic slump worsened.

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