Merchandise exports grew by nearly $500 million in May on increased shipments of most products, particularly lumber, natural gas and automotive products, marking their fourth straight gain, Statistics Canada reported this morning.
Exports to the United States surpassed $30.0 billion, as a result of higher exports of lumber, natural gas and trucks.
Lumber exports rose 15.6% from April, also the fourth consecutive increase. Combined with other wood-fabricated materials (including oriented strand board), sales abroad continue to escalate, driven by strong demand from south of the border and high prices.
Natural gas prices rose only slightly for the month, accompanying a 6.3% rise in export volumes. Increased foreign-bound shipments of bituminous coal, mainly to destinations other than the United States, also provided some lift to the energy product sector.
Higher vehicle sales in the United States encouraged by sustained incentives and low financing rates contributed to increased truck and passenger automobile exports in May. Exports in the automotive sector have risen every month since January after a lacklustre performance during the second half of 2003.
Agricultural exports reached a record high in May, with $200 million in growth from April. All commodities have shown year-over-year growth except for live animals, primarily because of trade restrictions arising from concerns over mad cow disease. Strong wheat yields, high fish exports overseas and a steady rebound in meat and its preparations all contributed to the growth.
The only two sectors to incur declines in May were industrial goods and materials and machinery and equipment, Canada’s second and third largest export sectors. Machinery and equipment fell by $150 million, with aircraft exports cooling off after two strong months. Declines in industrial goods and materials exports were more widespread, led by metal and alloys, ores and chemicals.
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