INDUSTRY PULSE: Across-the-board decline in imports in November

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OTTAWA, Ont. — A sharp decline in imports was felt across all sectors in November, Statistics Canada reported today.

Canadian companies imported $27.4 billion worth of merchandise, down 10.2% from October. While this was the lowest level since January 2004, November’s imports were comparable with those for November 2003.

"The drop in the value of imports was a result of falling import prices due to a soaring Canadian dollar and a drop in the volume of goods," Statistics Canada noted in its Daily Bulletin.

The Canadian dollar appreciated strongly during the last half of 2004 against the American greenback, especially between October and November. The loonie rose from US 81.80 cents on November 1 to its peak of US 85.04 cents on November 26, the highest level since 1992. Imported goods have become less expensive as the Canadian dollar has appreciated, resulting in lower import values. Approximately one-third of the drop in import values in November resulted from the exchange rate appreciation.

Strong import performance and inventory accumulation leading up to November also contributed to the month’s volume decline.

Imports of machinery and equipment and automotive products both declined for the fourth consecutive month.

Machinery and equipment imports fell 11.6% to $7.7 billion, while automotive products declined 8.7% to $5.7 billion. Imports of passenger autos and chassis bucked the downward trend, rising 1.2% to 1.7 billion.

Imports of other consumer goods fell $370 million to $3.7 billion. House furnishings, which reached record highs of $636.4 million in July, fell for the fourth consecutive month to $525.9 million. This was the lowest level since December 2001.

Imports of energy products dropped 12.2% to $1.9 billion following a strong gain in October. Imports of crude petroleum declined 8.9% to $1.3 billion, a level similar to that experienced in June and prior to the record highs of early autumn.

Imports of industrial goods and materials fell 12.6% in November, with similar declines in chemicals and plastics; other industrial goods and materials; and metals and metal ores. Imports of agricultural and fishing products fell a sharp $216.3 million to $1.6 billion.

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