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2014 looks to be a record year in Canadian exports: StatsCan

Published by Brad Fougere on January 07, 2015

Canada’s international trade performance fell sharply in November, led by a significant drop in the value of energy exports to the United States.

November’s decrease was felt on both sides of the trade ledger. Total exports plunged 3.5 per cent compared to October, while imports were down 2.7 per cent. 

The much larger drop in exports, combined with substantial revisions to October’s trade numbers, tipped Canada’s monthly trade balance abruptly negative. Revised trade figures for October turned a $99 million surplus into a $327 million deficit, while November’s performance caused the trade deficit to nearly double – reaching $644 million that month. 

In spite of November’s drop, Canadian exporters continued to enjoy an excellent year as 2014 wound down. Exports were up 10.6 per cent through 11 months and by the end of November had already exceeded the total for all of 2013. In fact, exports fell just short of breaking the all-time record high a full month early. Cumulative exports from January through November were valued at $484.9 billion, compared to the high water mark of $487.3 billion, set in 2008. Based on current trade levels, Canada likely broke that record on December 2nd or 3rd. 

As noted above, energy products were the main driver behind lower export totals in November, accounting for nearly half of the total $1.6-billion decrease.The recent sharp decline in crude oil prices has significantly decreased the value of Canada’s number one export product, impacting the national trade balance in the process. Exports of crude oil and bitumen were down nearly 10 per cent in November, with about two thirds of that drop due to lower prices and the remainder to lower volumes. 

However, November’s decrease in exports was hardly limited to energy products and will be cause for concern should it represent anything more than a one-month blip. In spite of a weaker Canadian dollar, international sales were lower in most major product categories, with especially steep declines for exporters of metal ores and non-metallic minerals (11.5 per cent), as well as products made from those raw materials (8.3 per cent). In fact, only two major product categories saw an increase in exports in November: agriculture and food products; and chemical, plastics and rubber products. 

Exports were down in nearly every province in November. Six of ten provinces posted double-digit losses, with the largest declines in PEI and Alberta. Only New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador saw month-over-month export growth in November. In the case of New Brunswick, the increase was due to the resumption of activity at the Irving oil refinery which had been shut down for most of October.   

Red ink was all over the import side of the equation in November as well. Canadians bought fewer foreign goods in every single major product category, with the sole exception of motor vehicles, where imports were up 1.2 per cent.

Found in: Stats Canada

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