OTTAWA, Ont.--According to the March edition of the Export Performance Monitor, Canadian exports rose 0.2% in January, while imports fell by 1.6%, slashing Canada's trade deficit to $117 million. Most export destinations showed declines except for sales to the European Union and emerging markets.
Energy and agricultural exports soared, off-setting big declines in automotive and metals
The top performer was Canada's energy sector which rose by a whopping 9.2% as crude oil shipments climbed 11.6% while natural gas increased by 11.0%. Canada's agriculture sector also had an exceptionally strong month rising 7.2% to $2 billion in sales, driven mainly by wheat, canola and other crops. Outside of agriculture and energy, the export results were generally quite weak. Automotive exports decreased by 11% due to a huge 19.5% decline in shipments of auto parts, the largest decline since 2009. Metal ores also decreased, falling 11.7% on declining copper shipments.
2014 will see a big improvement over last year
Exports were off to a slow start in January, as the generally positive economic data in the US was interrupted by severe weather. The polar vortex with its heavy snows and extremely cold temperatures delayed a great deal of construction and investment in the US. However, these delays are only temporary and we expect a bounce back in the month ahead. The weaker Loonie combined with rising business investment in the US should boost Canadian exports of machinery and equipment. At the same time, the improving European economy will support continued gains, after a 6.2% rise exports in January. Finally, emerging markets were the fastest growing destination for Canadian exporters, with a 9.3% gain and we expect that stellar growth to continue in the months and years ahead, the monitor indicated.