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Bump in energy exports lifts Canadian exports in February

Published by Brad Fougere on April 02, 2015

Merchandise Trade Release Notes – February 2015

Canada’s trade balance improved slightly in February, driven by a rebound in energy exports. Overall exports rose by a modest 0.4 per cent over January’s levels to reach $43.5 billion for the month. A significant upward revision for January means that last month’s trade performance was nowhere near as bad as initially estimated.

Even so, Canada’s bottom-line export numbers have not been strong recently – February’s gains represent only the second month-over-month increase in exports since September.

For their part, imports into Canada dipped by 0.7 per cent to $44.5 billion in February. As a result, Canada’s monthly trade deficit fell from a revised $1.5 billion to just under $1.0 billion. Canada has now posted five consecutive months of negative trade balances. 

The increase in exports in February was largely the result of a rebound month for the energy sector. Crude oil and refined petroleum exports were up sharply for the month, buoyed by a modest uptick in prices and higher volumes – especially for refined petroleum products. Energy exports rose by 14.9 per cent in February, breaking a streak of eight consecutive monthly declines. Other major gainers included aerospace (8.2 per cent) and electronic/electrical equipment (4.6 per cent).

However, Canada’s export numbers for February were, in a sense, the mirror image of recent trends in the country. Over the past number of months, exports of non-energy goods was relatively solid, but the impact of plunging crude oil prices on the country’s most important export product weighed down the overall trade picture. The opposite was true in February. Energy exports increased by $1.1 billion for the month, while foreign sales of all other products combined fell by $960 million.

Leading the way was a sharp drop in exports of motor vehicles and parts. A 15.1 per cent drop (more than $1.0 billion) wiped out a year’s worth of gains in a single month. Exports of non-metallic and metallic mineral products were also down (-2.6 per cent), as were sales of chemical, plastic and rubber products (-2.1 per cent).

Canada’s trade performance was mixed across the country as five provinces posted export gains and five posted losses. By far the largest increase on a percentage basis was in New Brunswick where a spike in refined petroleum product sales drove exports 8.9 percent higher in February. BC also enjoyed solid export gains in February, with a 5.5 percent increase.

At the other end of the spectrum, foreign sales were down sharply in Saskatchewan, Alberta and Ontario. Lower energy exports drove the losses on the prairies, while the sharp downturn in motor vehicles and parts trade was largely responsible for Ontario’s weak performance.

On the import side, sales of foreign goods into Canada were down in seven of the eleven major product categories. Imports of motor vehicles, industrial machinery and energy products were all lower, offset in part by an increase in purchases of aircraft parts and raw metals and minerals. 

Found in: merchandise trade StatsCan

National Office

Alberta British Columbia
Manitoba New Brunswick
Newfoundland & Labrador Nova Scotia
Ontario Québec
Prince Edward Island Saskatchewan