OTTAWA, Ont — Canada’s exports increased in three key sectors in August: energy, agriculture and fishing, and automotive, according to Statistics Canada.
Shipments of live animals across the border soared 50.7% in August to $164.1 million. This was the highest level since April 2003, the month prior to the discovery of mad cow disease. While hog exports were up, exports of live cattle accounted for the vast majority of the increase in live animals. The American export ban on live cattle under the age of 30 months was lifted in mid-July.
Exports of automotive products were up 2.8%, led by an 11.0% increase in shipments of passenger autos and chassis. This rebound in passenger autos, widespread throughout the industry, follows lower-than-usual summer production levels.
And, of course, there was a notable rise in energy exports. Natural gas exports jumped 13.2% in August as supply uncertainty pushed up prices. The devastation of the Gulf Coast in the last week of August fuelled the climb as it disrupted natural gas supplies.
The jump in natural gas exports was accompanied by a 0.8% increase in exports of crude petroleum. Similar to natural gas, volumes of crude petroleum exports fell, and the prices spurred the gain. Crude oil prices reached US $66.80 per barrel by mid-August and hit US $70.85 per barrel on August 29 in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In agriculture, each major group increased except for the category of other unmilled cereals. Gains in canola and barley exports led the increase.
On the down side, exports fell in the industrial goods and materials, and machinery and equipment sectors. Exports of metals and alloys were down 7.0% as a result of production shutdowns and labour strikes. Aluminum exports managed a 4.2% increase as capacity expansion occurred in the industry.
Metal ore exports soared 44.7% to a record high of $790.7 million. Prices for metal ores have been high throughout 2005. Additional demand from other Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development countries fuelled the increase. Exports of chemicals returned to usual levels in August, following a large shipment of uranium destined for the European Union which drove July exports up.
Lumber and sawmill products continue their downward spiral, falling 5.9%. This was the sixth consecutive decline for the commodity grouping. Lumber prices, which have plummeted since the May 2004 peak, are normally quoted in US dollars. The appreciation of the Canadian dollar against the American dollar has resulted in lumber producers receiving fewer Canadian dollars for their merchandise.
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