Statistics Canada' Canadian international merchandise trade, December 2017 report showed the country's imports reaching a record $49.7 billion in December, which led to the country's December trade deficit swelling to $3.2 billion from $2.7 billion last month, the largest trade deficit seen since September.
Exports were reported higher in December for the third straight month to $46.5 billion, a result of higher prices combined with volumes reported as unchanged from the previous month. Exports reported for the farm and fishing category were reported at $2.221 billion, up 2.1% from the previous month and the largest dollar value exports reported in 11 months.
The following is a look at miscellaneous trade data included in Tuesday's report.
Lentil exports in December were reported at 112,518 metric tons, down for the third consecutive month and the smallest December volume exported in five years. The largest buyers this month included Algeria at 12% of the volume and United Arab Emirates at 14% of the volume. Exports to India totaled 8,168 mt, just 10.6% of the volume shipped to that country in December 2016. Crop year-to-date exports (August-through-December) total 621,425 mt, 43.2% of the volume shipped in the same period of 2016/17 and 58.9% of the five-year average for this period. This volume represents 38.8% of the current AAFC export target of 1.6 mmt, just slightly behind the steady pace needed to reach this target given data that covers 41.7% of the crop year.
Chickpea exports in December totaled 15,646 mt, which follows a run of aggressive volumes shipped over the past two months. Year-to-date, 88,890 mt has been shipped, up 109% from the same period last year and 171.8% higher than the five-year average. Cumulative volumes represent 63.5% of the current AAFC target of 140,000 mt, well ahead of the pace needed to achieve this target, if supplies permit, with data covering 41.7% of the crop year.
Mustard exports were reported at 8,127 mt in December, the lowest monthly volume shipped in four months, the lowest monthly volume shipped in four months. Year-to-date, 46,250 mt has been shipped, which represents 94.7% achieved in the same period of 2016/17 and 88.9% of the five-year average. Given the current AAFC export target of 120,000 mt, current exports represent 38.5% of this target, close to the steady pace needed to achieve this level of exports.
Canary seed exports were reported at 11,260 mt, the lowest volume shipped in three months. Cumulative volumes are reported at 60,396 mt, which represents a volume 9.2% higher than the same period last crop year as well as 92.7% of the five-year average. This volume represents 44.7% of the current export target of 135,000 mt, ahead of the steady pace needed to reach this target.
Flax exports were reported at 52,157 mt for December, the largest monthly volume shipped in 10 months, with China stepping up to take 80% of the monthly volume, although that country's year-to-date volumes trail 2016/17 by 18%. Year-to-date exports total 190,284 mt, which represents 88.8% of the same period in 2016/17 and 80.4% of the five-year average. The current pace of exports is slightly behind the steady pace needed to reach the current 500,000-mt export target set by AAFC, having achieved 38.1% of the target in the first five months of the crop year.
A total volume of 882,939 mt of soybeans were shipped in December, down sharply from the previous month but a record volume for the month of December. The largest share, or 39% of the total, was shipped to China, while a similar volume was spread among Western European countries of Spain, Italy and Germany, as well as to Japan and Iran. Year-to-date, 3.052 mmt has been exported by Canada, up 7.5% from the same period last crop year and 24% higher than the five-year average. The current AAFC target is 5.6 mmt, while cumulative exports have achieved 54.5% of this target with just four months of the row-crop crop-year reported.
Corn exports totaled 243,486 mt in December, the largest monthly volume shipped this crop year. The largest share was shipped to Western Europe, with Ireland taking 55% of the monthly volume and Spain taking 17% of the volume. Year-to-date exports total 446,314 mt, 46.2% higher than the volume shipped in 2016/17 and 59.1% higher than the five-year average. The current AAFC export target is pegged at 1.5 mmt, with cumulative exports accounting for 29.8% of the total, just slightly behind the steady pace needed to reach the target.
Another interesting trend seen in the Canadian corn market this crop year is Canadian imports of corn. December imports totaled 106,705 mt, the lowest volume seen in the four months of this crop year. At the same time, cumulative imports total 509,440 mt, up 49% from the same period last crop year. The largest difference is imports into Western Canada, with September-through-December imports into Saskatchewan/Alberta pegged at 157,444 mt, up 383% from the five-year average. This trend is seen on the attached graphic. While Manitoba imported a further 130,654 mt in the September-through=December period, this volume was lower than reported over the same period last crop year. Social media posts show further corn volumes traded over the spring months into southern Alberta, suggesting this trend will continue.
Cumulative canola oil exports total 1.247 mmt through the end of December, down .3% from the same period in 2016/17. Cumulative exports of canola meal are reported at 1.84 mmt, down 5.7% from the same period last crop year.
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