Widespread export increases for all sectors

by Canadian Shipper

Almost half of the $1.5 billion export jump in trade this September stemmed from increased activity in the automotive sector, in which exports rose 10.4% to more than $7.4 billion, Statistics Canada records indicate. This followed an abnormally low August, due in part to power outages in Ontario and the northeastern United States.

Manufacturers resumed full production, with 2004 model vehicles rolling off assembly lines and heading to dealerships across North America. Passenger auto exports accounted for the majority of the growth, climbing 18.1% to $3.7 billion.

Motor vehicle parts exports grew 5.0% to $2.4 billion and trucks and other motor vehicles inched up 1.0% to $1.3 billion.

All industrial categories increased in September, pushing exports of industrial goods and materials up 4.4% to $5.5 billion. Nickel ore exports returned to more normal levels, following months of labour strikes and production cutbacks during the summer.

Canadians exported $5.1 billion in energy products, a gain of 4.6% from August. Leading the growth was a 7.0% increase in natural gas exports to $2.5 billion, mainly on higher volumes, as prices rose only slightly. Electricity exports more than doubled, from $111 million in August to just under $250 million in September.

Offsetting these gains were lower crude petroleum exports, which slid 9.2% to $1.4 billion, their second consecutive monthly decline. Prices for crude petroleum dipped 3.4%, ending two months of hikes.

Forestry product exports continued their upward trend, rising 5.2% to $3.1 billion. Strong prices, combined with higher volumes attempting to satisfy solid US demand, were responsible for these increases. Lumber exports rose for the fifth consecutive month, up 9.7% in September. Housing starts south of the border continued their torrid pace, as new home purchasers sought to take advantage of low mortgage rates.

Other wood fabricated materials jumped 13.1% to a record level of over $650 million on higher exports of plywood and of oriented strand board. Prices for these materials increased 5.3% in September and 30% in the last four months.

Wheat exports increased $81 million (+29.2%) in September, growing by almost $200 million during the third quarter of 2003. Shipments from Ontario accounted for the majority of this rise, as recent harvests yielded higher-than-usual production. This commodity was the main contributor to the 3.8% improvement for exports in the agricultural and fishing product sector.

Meat and meat preparation exports also surged 46.2%, with exports of Canadian beef to the United States resuming after months of a ban arising from the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) incident. Shipments began to flow slowly across the border after the United States, along with Mexico and Russia, allowed imports of boneless meat from cattle under 30 months old. There was still a widespread ban on Canadian beef products, including live cattle, and export values in September were lower than before the ban was implemented.

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