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Statistics Canada releases May figures for trade

The latest trade numbers for May 2008 from Statistics Canada show a rising surplus of $5.5 billion or $700 million higher than in April 2008.  Agricultural and fishing products exports and imports posted gains of 2.6 percent and 3.4 percent, repsectively.


July 11, 2008
By Statistics Canada

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May 2008

Canada's trade surplus with the world expanded to $5.5 billion in May, from $4.8 billion in April, as exports to countries other than the United States reached their highest level ever and exports to the United States remained strong.

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Canadian exports rose for the fifth consecutive month, increasing 5.4% to $42.1 billion, as both volumes and prices increased. However, since November 2007, export prices have been on the rise, while volumes have been on a downward trend.


Imports increased 3.9% to $36.6 billion, their largest increase since July 2007. Volumes were up, while prices declined. Nevertheless, import prices have been on an upward trend for the past seven months, while movements in volume have been more volatile.


Exports to the United States increased for the fifth month in a row, reaching $31.3 billion, their highest level since December 2006. Imports grew by almost the same dollar value as exports, leaving the trade surplus with Canada's largest trading partner virtually unchanged at $8.1 billion.


Exports to countries other than the United States surpassed the $10-billion mark. Since the growth in exports was twice as large as the rise in imports, the trade deficit narrowed to $2.5 billion from $3.3 billion. This growth was partially attributed to increased coal exports to Japan and South Korea, where it is used to produce steel.


Exports: Energy products rise on strength of coal


Energy products exports rose for the seventh consecutive month, increasing 8.1% to $11.6 billion in May. The rise was widespread, reflecting higher prices and increased shipments of coal to Asia. Crude petroleum also contributed to the rise, increasing for the second month in a row.


Exports of industrial goods and materials increased 9.0% in May to $9.6 billion. The largest contributor to the gain was metal ores. This reflected increased exports of iron ores, which almost doubled in value due to rising volumes and prices, as well as a gain in the volume of copper ores, particularly to Asia. Greater exports of sulphur and potash to China and other Asian countries also increased exports of this sector.


Agricultural and fishing products increased 2.6% to $3.5 billion in May, the fifth monthly gain in a row. This was largely due to higher exports of wheat, which have been on an upward trend since October 2007, as a result of rising prices and robust demand from overseas and the United States.


Exports of automotive products declined for the third month in a row, decreasing 3.5% in May. This sector has been declining since January 2007. Recently, higher gas prices and the economic slowdown in the United States have weakened demand for automotive products from our southern neighbour.

Imports of industrial goods and materials push up imports

Imports of industrial goods and materials increased 8.7% to $7.8 billion, on the strength of metals and metal ores, particularly precious metals and copper and alloys. Metals and metal ores imports have been trending upward since September 2007. Larger imports of uranium contributed to the increase in chemicals and plastics.


Machinery and equipment imports increased 4.6% to $10.0 billion. This increase was partially attributed to a rise in communication and related equipment. Imports of aircraft, engines and parts also contributed to the rise as part of the on-going commercial and military fleet rejuvenation.


The largest offsetting decrease was observed in energy products, which declined 3.1%. A decline in petroleum and coal products, in particular gasoline, was the main contributor, more than offsetting increased imports of crude petroleum.