Canadian exports dip for the third straight month

by Canadian Shipper

Canada’s merchandise exports declined for the third straight month in July, reports Statistics Canada.

The decline is due to summer shutdowns at auto manufacturing plants and lower exports of energy products, according to the government agency.

Canadian companies exported just over $35.5 billion worth of merchandise in July, a 0.4% drop from June. Exports have generally been on the decline since January, when they reached a record $38.5 billion. Since April, they have fallen 3.1%.

Imports were virtually unchanged in July from June at about $30.2 billion, as increases in the machinery and equipment sector offset declines in the automotive and energy sectors. Imports have remained generally flat since setting a record high in December 2000.

Canada’s overall merchandise trade surplus fell marginally to $5.4 billion in July, far short of the record surplus of more than $8.4 billion in January. For the first seven months of 2001, Canada’s cumulative merchandise trade surplus stood at $45.0 billion, about $12.9 billion higher than in the same period of 2000.

Merchandise exports to the United States declined 0.9% in July to $30.4 billion, while imports from south of the border rose 0.3% to $22.3 billion. This resulted in a decline in the trade surplus with the United States to $8.0 billion.

On an industry by industry basis, Statistics Canada reported the following:

Summer shutdowns and model year change-overs for auto manufacturers resulted in a 4.1% drop in exports of automotive products to $7.8 billion in July. Passenger car exports fell 8.3% to $4.1 billion. Motor vehicle parts exports inched up 0.1% for the fifth month in a row to just over $2.3 billion. Truck and other motor vehicle exports rose 2.5% to $1.5 billion.

Machinery and equipment exports fell 1.0% to $8.2 billion in July, mainly as a result of weakness in the aircraft and industrial machinery sectors. Aircraft exports fell 2.3% to $2.0 billion; industrial machinery exports dropped 3.1% to $1.4 billion.

Energy exports continued to fall in July, 1.6% to $5.3 billion-the sixth month that energy exports have retreated. While petroleum products and electricity exports led the decline, exports of natural gas and coal and bituminous substances saw a bit of a revival. Natural gas exports rose 1.9% to $2.9 billion in July, as U.S. inventories bulked up for the winter months. At the same time, coal and bituminous products jumped 17.8% to just under $108.0 million.

Strong demand and resumption of full-scale production of copper and aluminum led to increases in exports of metal ores, up 35.3% to $560.5 million, and metals and alloys, up 5.0% to $1.7 billion. This pushed the industrial goods and materials sector up 4.3% to $5.6 billion in July. Exports of zinc ore and alloys were the lone weak areas in the metal ores and alloys sectors.

Chemicals, plastics and fertilizers sector exports fell 1.5% to $1.9 billion.

Exports of forestry products rose 1.4% to $3.4 billion in July. Crude wood products exports, mainly raw logs to the Far East, led the way with an 85.9% jump to $116.0 million. Lumber exports, primarily softwood lumber to the United States, edged 0.9% to just over $1.0 billion, as U.S. housing starts continued to grow. Lumber prices declined in anticipation of countervailing duties from the United States.

Agricultural exports rose 1.5% to $2.7 billion, a new high level in July. Strong U.S. demand for beef resulted in an increase in the export of live animals of 13.6% to $219.2 million. Poor grazing conditions because of the drought in western Canada, coupled with rising feed costs, gave ranchers added incentive to sell off their excess cattle. Meat and meat preparations exports rose 4.8% to $426.1 million.

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