The Canadian economy grew at twice the rate of its American counterpart in early 2011, posting its fastest rate of growth in the past year.

Statistics Canada released figures on Monday showing real gross domestic product grew at an annualized rate of 3.9 per cent during the first quarter in Canada.

South of the border, real GDP grew only 1.8 per cent during the same time period.

Both economies still find themselves on the mend two years after the recession, but BNN's Michael Kane told CTV News Channel the U.S. economy is going through more persistent and difficult struggles -- including stubbornly high unemployment and continued challenges in its housing sector.

But the longer that the U.S. economy is down, the more problems that Canada will face in growing its own economy, which Kane said stems from the fact that "we just stand too close to the United States not to get hurt this way."

Also of concern are the balance sheet issues the U.S. faces as a whole, with Finance Minister Jim Flaherty recently telling CTV's Question Period that the debt and deficit problems there "are significant."

Kane said the 3.9 per cent bump in Canada's real GDP was in line with what had been expected, though some economists told him that they would still like to see a stronger rate of growth.

David Madani of Capital Economics predicted Monday that Canada's economy will slow down as the year progresses, as auto production cools down and energy prices moderate.

Monday's report from Statistics Canada said exports were up 1.6 per cent in the first quarter, compared to a 2.1 per cent increase in the final quarter of 2010.

The country also saw an increase in imports (2.2 per cent), recovering from a slight decrease (0.1 per cent) seen in the previous quarter.

Output was up for nearly all major industrial sectors, with StatsCan identifying the manufacturing sector as being the largest contributor to growth.

With files from The Canadian Press