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INDUSTRY PULSE: Energy and automotive products drive most of import growth

OTTAWA, Ont. -- Imports have been generally growing since September 2003. In April, four sectors (energy products, ...

OTTAWA, Ont. — Imports have been generally growing since September 2003. In April, four sectors (energy products, automotive products, agricultural and fishing products, and forestry products) registered growth, according to Statistics Canada.

This comes in the wake of 0.9% growth in Canada’s real gross domestic product during the first three months of 2006.

Imports of energy products, which rose 14.1% from March, accounted for the vast majority (90%) of the net growth in total imports in April. Canadian companies imported more than $2.8 billion in energy products in April, following a period of sharp declines that have averaged 2.7% a month since November 2005.

April’s increase in energy was the result of a 12.5% increase in volume and a 1.6% increase in prices. Imports of petroleum and coal products, and coal and other related products surged 36.2%, and crude petroleum gained 1.9%.

Companies imported nearly $6.7 billion in automotive products in April, up 2.8% from March, their second consecutive gain. This growth consisted of a 5.9% gain in imports of trucks and other motor vehicles, a 2.6% increase in imports of passenger autos, and a 1.5% rise in motor vehicle parts.

Imports of automotive products have been virtually flat since April 2004, as trucks and other motor vehicles, as well as passenger autos, have risen while motor vehicle parts have declined.

Agricultural and fishing products increased 1.0% to $1.9 billion, the second consecutive rise. The main contributors were increases in sugar and sugar preparations, beverages and tobacco. Imports of fruits and vegetables, which registered their third consecutive decline, were 4.1% lower than they were in January.

Industrial goods and materials edged down 0.3% in April, following a 4.1% gain in March. Chemicals and plastics explained most of the decline.

After an increase in March, machinery and equipment imports fell 3.2% in April with aircraft and other transportation equipment plunging 20.9%. This component accounted for over 98% of the net decline of the sector.

Industrial and agricultural machinery imports fell 2.8% while “other” machinery and equipment imports increased 1.7%.

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