Canada’s international merchandise trade, August 2012, with a focus on trade with Belgium

This guest post by Christian Sivière, President at Solutions Import Export Logistique, comes from a recent article he published on Canada’s international trade, zooming in on trade with Belgium.  Reprinted with permission of the author.

Canada’s international merchandise trade, August 2012                                   Canada’s merchandise imports fell 3.1% and exports edged down 0.1% in August. As a result, Canada’s international trade deficit decreased from $2.5 billion in July to $1.3 billion in August. Imports fell to $38.8 billion as declines occurred in every sector, except energy products. Volumes fell in every sector and were down 2.2% in August. Exports amounted to $37.5 billion, as a decrease in prices offset an increase in volumes. The largest decline occurred in exports of industrial goods and materials, while exports of energy products increased after six consecutive monthly declines. Imports from the United States fell 4.3% to $24.2 billion, while exports rose 1.4% to $27.6 billion. Consequently, Canada’s trade surplus with the United States increased from $2 billion in July to $3.5 billion in August. Exports to countries other than the United States fell 3.9% to $9.8 billion, mainly the result of a 19.5% decline in exports to Japan. Imports from countries other than the United States declined 1% to $14.6 billion. Consequently, Canada’s trade deficit with countries other than the United States increased from $4.5 billion in July to $4.8 billion in August.

Imports decline as volumes were down in every sector                                            After four consecutive monthly increases, imports of industrial goods and materials fell 7.4% to $7.9 billion in August. Decreases in the value of imports were widespread throughout this sector. The largest factor was an 11.6% decline in imports of metals and metal ores, mainly precious metals and alloys. Imports of machinery and equipment decreased 3.8% to $10.4 billion, as volumes and prices fell. The decline was led by other machinery and equipment, down 5.6% to $5 billion. Imports of automotive products declined 3.3% to $6.7 billion in August, as both volumes (-1.9%) and prices (-1.4%) fell. The decrease in the sector was largely the result of lower imports of motor vehicle parts as well as trucks and other motor vehicles. On the strength of crude petroleum, the energy products sector grew 6.1% to $4.1 billion, and partially offset the decline in overall imports. Crude petroleum rose 15.4% to $2.6 billion, as a result of higher volumes and prices. Imports of petroleum and coal products fell 5.5% to $1.2 billion.
Industrial goods and materials were the largest contributor to the decline in exports                                                                                                                         Exports of industrial goods and materials fell 6.1% to $8.8 billion, as decreases were recorded throughout the sector. The biggest losers were exports of fertilizers and fertilizer materials (-22.3%) as well as iron ores, concentrates and scrap (-26.8%). A 13.3% increase in exports of precious metals and alloys partially offset the decrease.
Exports of automotive products declined 2.3% to $5.7 billion in August. Motor vehicle parts fell 6% to $1.5 billion, mainly due to lower volumes. Exports of energy products rose 5.5% to $8.6 billion, halting six consecutive monthly decreases. Exports of crude petroleum, the main contributor, increased 9.1% to $5.5 billion. Petroleum and coal products also rose (10.6%). These gains were partially offset by the fourth consecutive monthly decline in exports of coal and other bituminous substances. Exports of agricultural and fishing products grew 6.5% to $3.6 billion. The main factor was wheat exports, rising 57.5%, as volumes were up for the first time in four months.

How about Canada’s main trading partner, the United States ?
The U.S. international trade deficit in goods and services increased to $44.2 billion in August, from $42.5 billion in July, as exports decreased more than imports. Exports decreased from $183.2 billion to $181.3 billion, while imports decreased only slightly from $225.7 billion to $225.5 billion.
As far as categories are concerned, the July to August decrease in exports of goods reflected decreases in industrial supplies and materials, foods, feeds and beverages, consumer goods and automotive vehicles, parts and engines, while increases occurred in capital goods.
The July to August decrease in imports of goods reflected decreases in consumer goods, automotive vehicles, parts and engines and capital goods. Increases occurred in industrial supplies and materials and foods, feeds and beverages.

On the European side, exports of the 17 Euro-zone countries rose sharply in August, while the annual rate of inflation was unchanged in September, an indication of resilience in the area’s economy. The euro zone’s goods exports to the rest of the world exceeded its imports by €6.6 billion ($8.55 billion), a drop from the €14.7 billion surplus recorded in July, but a reversal of the €5.7 billion deficit recorded in August 2011.

And how about Canada’s trade with Belgium ?
Regarding trade with Belgium, Canadian exports went from 164 million in June, down to 126 million in July and down again to 84 million in August. Canadian imports from Belgium, on the other hand, went from 200 million in June, up to 206 million in July and down to 163 million in August. Our relatively stable trade remains in favour of Belgium and the steady reduction of Canada’s exports could be worrying, should it continue.

Christian Sivière Import Export Logistics Solutions TM, Montréal christian.siviere@videotron.ca All Rights Reserved October 2012 Sources : Statistics Canada, United States Census Bureau, Eurostat Canada’s exports and imports