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INDUSTRY PULSE: Exports decline experienced "across the board"

OTTAWA, Ont. -- It didn't matter if your main customer base was in machinery and equipment, agricultural products o...


OTTAWA, Ont. — It didn’t matter if your main customer base was in machinery and equipment, agricultural products or automotive, if your business relied on hauling goods stateside in September, it likely suffered.

Just about every sector experienced a drop in its exports in September, Statistics Canada figures indicate.

Exports of machinery and equipment declined for the third consecutive month, down 5.2% to $7.6 billion in September.

Exports of aircraft and other transportation equipment, which had soared through the first two quarters of 2004, declined over the last two months of the third quarter.

Exports of aircraft and other transportation equipment in September fell by 17.8% to $1.6 billion. Industrial and agricultural machinery exports increased slightly to $1.6 billion.

The other machinery and equipment commodity grouping declined on weakness in the television and telecom and related equipment, which fell by 9.7% to just under one billion dollars.

Exports of agricultural products plummeted on large declines in grains, falling by 11.1% to $2.5 billion. Exports of canola and barley virtually ceased in September while slow harvest progress and untimely rains and frost in some areas reduced exportable supplies of high-grade, high-protein North American spring wheat. Wheat exports fell by one-third to levels below the drought-stricken September of 2003.

Automotive exports declined 2.9% to $7.4 billion in September. Most of the decrease came from trucks and other motor vehicles (down 10.6% to $1.1 billion) and motor vehicle parts (down 3.9% to $2.2 billion) with automobile exports falling only slightly to $4.1 billion.

Exports of industrial goods and materials declined by 1.7% to $6.6 billion.

Continued strong foreign demand for metal ores, which rose by 4.6% to $693 million, failed to offset declines in exports of chemicals, plastics and fertilizers (down 2.0% to $2.2 billion), metals and alloys (down 2.1% to $2.1 billion) and other industrial goods and materials (down 3.4% to $1.5 billion). Strong global demand for nickel and zinc (key ingredients in stainless steel) held prices aloft while volumes rose in September. Volume increases in nickel shipments were concentrated in partially refined and unrefined nickel.

Energy products exports fell by 1.7% to $5.9 billion. Natural gas exports prices fell but volume rose leaving export values virtually unchanged at $2.4 billion. Crude petroleum exports declined by 0.8% to $2.2 billion. Other energy product exports fell by 6.3% to $1.3 billion. While energy exports have levelled off in the third quarter they remain 26.4% higher than in 2003 thanks to sustained strong prices

Weather played a significant role in the forestry sector over the third quarter of 2004. In September, forestry product exports fell for the fourth month in a row, down 2.3% to $3.4 billion. Wood pulp and wood product exports declined by 13.0% to half a billion dollars when Japanese pulp processing plants were shut down by typhoon weather which buffeted the south and western parts of the country in September. Wet weather and the continued threat of hurricanes in the American southeast and heavy rain in the northeast hampered new housing starts. This led to a volume drop of 3.0% in lumber exports, while prices rose by 1.6% to the highest level in 28 months. Exports of newsprint and other paper exports increased slightly to just over $1.0 billion.


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