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Exports down for third time in last four months

OTTAWA, Ont. -- Merchandise exports fell 1.6% to just under $34.6 billion in February while imports remained unchan...

OTTAWA, Ont. — Merchandise exports fell 1.6% to just under $34.6 billion in February while imports remained unchanged at $30.0 billion, Statistics Canada reports.

Canada’s trade surplus with the rest of the world dropped by half a billion dollars to $4.6 billion in February, the third decline in the past four months

Exports to the United States, which accounted for 84% of the total in February, fell 0.9% to $29.1 billion, while exports to the European Union (6% of the total) fell 11.6% to $2.0 billion.

Imports from the United States remained unchanged from January. A decline in imports from the EU fully offset increases from all other trading partners.

The trade surplus with the United States fell by a quarter billion dollars to $7.8 billion. Canada’s trade deficit with countries other than the United States increased from $2.9 billion in January to $3.2 billion in February.

Looking at activity by sector, machinery and equipment exports fell 7.7% to $7.5 billion. The decrease was driven by a 23.9% drop in aircraft, engines and parts to $1.3 billion, the result of lower demand in the United States for smaller passenger and corporate aircraft.

Industrial and agricultural machinery exports decreased 7.0% to $1.6 billion, while “other” machinery and equipment exports, including telecommunications equipment, office machines and heavy equipment and tools fell 2.5% to $4.2 billion.

Exports of automotive products rose 1.7% to $7.7 billion in February, the first back-to-back monthly increase in six months. Exports of trucks and other motor vehicles bounced back with a 10.9% increase to $1.5 billion. The rebound in February was the first in five months. Passenger automobile exports declined slightly to $3.6 billion. Passenger auto exports have fallen in six of the last seven months, as consumer demand, especially in the United States, continued to soften and manufacturers allowed inventories to fall. Exports of motor vehicle parts decreased marginally to $2.6 billion. The value of parts destined for US assembly plants eased in February; non-US parts exports picked up, partly offsetting the decline.

Exports of energy products increased 1.8% to $5.8 billion, the sixth monthly rise in a row. This was mainly the result of a surge in natural gas exports to the United States, which increased by one-fifth to $2.8 billion in February, one and a half times higher than in February 2002.

Industrial goods and materials fell 2.1% to $5.6 billion because of slower export activity in three of four sub-sectors. Only metals and alloys posted a modest gain of 1.6%, on the strength of a 24.7% jump in exports of precious metals and alloys to $406 million.

Agricultural and fishing products exports fell a slight 0.7% to $2.5 billion, with meat and meat preparations and live animal exports accounting for most of the decline. Although exports of canola and wheat bounced back, those of wheat and barley were approximately half of their levels from February 2002.

Canadian imports were unchanged in February, as decreases in imports from the European Union offset increased imports from all other non-US trading partners. Imports from the United States remained static.

Automotive products imports increased 3.0% to $6.9 billion in February. Imports of passenger autos increased 7.5% to $2.3 billion, 20.2% higher than February 2002. Imports of trucks and other motor vehicles increased 2.9% to $1.2 billion; this was the third record-setting level in a row, the result of strong demand for two- to five-ton vehicles. Motor vehicle parts imports destined for Canadian auto assembly plants increased slightly to $3.5 billion, the second consecutive increase following five months of decline.

Imports in the largest sector, machinery and equipment, fell 1.9% to $8.5 billion. Industrial and agricultural machinery imports fell 0.6% to $2.3 billion, the third monthly decline for a total drop of 5.5%. Imports of “other” machinery, which includes high-tech equipment, increased 1.8% to $3.8 billion. Aircraft and other transportation equipment imports dropped 13.5% to $1.1 billion. Imports of aircraft, engines and parts fell 18.6% to under three-quarters of a billion dollars, the lowest level since May 2002. Other transportation equipment imports also declined, down 3.4% to $428 million, returning to normal import values following a stronger-than-usual January.

Cold weather and tensions in oil-producing countries contributed to a 6.7% increase in imported energy products, which rose to $1.7 billion. In spite of a 5.6% increase in the crude petroleum import price index in February, a drop in import volume resulted in a 9.4% decline in the value of imported crude petroleum to $1.1 billion.

Although consumer goods imports posted their third consecutive monthly decline, falling marginally to $3.9 billion, they were just below the record levels set in October and November 2002. Increases in imports of apparel, footwear, house furnishings and televisions failed to offset declines in pharmaceuticals, photographic goods, printed matter, and watches, sporting goods and toys.

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