Canada's April trade included a favorable combination of a 1.3% increase in the value of exports of all merchandise, while the dollar value of imports of all goods fell by 1.4%, with Canada's trade deficit with the world falling from $2.3 billion last month to $966 million in April, its lowest level seen since October 2018.
This month's commentary notes increased exports of gold as a major driver of activity in April, but also points to the exports within the farm, fishing and intermediate food products group up 5.1% this month, with increased exports of wheat offsetting a year-over-year decline in canola shipments. The dollar value of wheat exports was reported up 21.7% year-over-year, while Statistics Canada reports no canola movement to China in April, resulting in a year-over-year decline of 14.7% in canola exports. It is interesting to note that while Statistics Canada reports no canola movement to China in April, the Canadian Grain Commission's April data includes exports of 51,200 metric tons to this destination.
The following is a summary of miscellaneous crop and crop products trade data for the month of April.
Lentil exports in April totaled 136,461 metric tons, up slightly from the previous month, but well below the previous four-month average. India was the largest buyer of Canadian lentils for the fourth straight month, with 29,927 mt shipped, up slightly from the previous month but well below the volumes shipped in January/February. Year-to-date exports to all destinations (August-April) total 1.463 million metric tons, up 26.1% from the same period last crop year while representing 89.9% of the five-year average. Exports currently account for 81.3% of AAFC's export forecast of 1.8 mmt, ahead of the steady pace needed to reach the AAFC's export demand forecast.
Canada's dry pea exports in April totaled 291,049 mt, the largest monthly volume shipped in six months although the lowest April volume moved in three years. China was the largest buyer in April, with 141,975 mt shipped, or 48.8% of the total volume and the largest monthly volume shipped to this destination since October. Year-to-date exports total 2.299 mmt, up 8.3% from the same period last crop year while just 93.5% of the five-year average. Cumulative exports account for 74.2% of the current AAFC export demand forecast of 3.1 mmt, while on track to reach this volume.
Chickpea exports in April were reported at 19,839 mt, the largest monthly volume shipped in five months and the largest April volume shipped in data checked back to 2010-11. For the second month, Pakistan and India were the top two destinations, taking roughly 35% of the month's total volume. Crop year-to-date exports total 114,147 mt, up 5.6% from the same period last crop year and 50.6% higher than the five-year average. Cumulative exports have surpassed the current 90,000 mt forecast released by AAFC, with year-end stocks destined to be much tighter than shown in current forecasts.
Mustard exports were reported at 9,899 mt in April, the lowest volume shipped in four months and the lowest April shipments seen in three years. Cumulative exports total 91,418 mt, up 5.8% from last year and 99% of the five-year average. This volume accounts for 81.6% of the current 112,000 mt export forecast, ahead of the steady pace needed to reach this volume.
Canary seed exports were reported at 15,162 mt, the largest volume shipped in five months and the largest April volume shipped in six years. Year-to-date exports total 115,442 mt, up 18.4% from the same period in 2017-18 and 2.7% higher than the five-year average. This volume accounts for 92.4% of the 125,000 mt export demand estimate, well-ahead of the steady pace needed to reach this volume.
Flax exports totaled 31,174 mt in April, the largest volume shipped in three months. For the first time in three months, China was the largest customer, with 16,055 mt shipped to this country accounting for 51.5% of the total volume. Cumulative flax exports are reported at 304,576 mt, 85.6% of the same period last crop year and 69.7% of the five-year average. The current pace is on track to achieve the current 400,000 mt export target set by AAFC.
Statistics Canada reported 94,033 mt of soybeans exported in April, down from the previous month and the lowest April volume shipped in three years. The largest buyer during the month was Japan at 28,790 mt, while an additional 17,581 mt was shipped to the United States. A token 467 mt was shipped to China during the month, a growing concern for Canada's industry and politicians. In the September-through-December period of 2018, Canada shipped 3.199 million metric tons to China, while in the January-through-April period, only 3,749 mt were shipped, or just 0.1% of the September-December period. Cumulative crop year exports total 3.998 mmt, down less than 1% from the same period in the previous crop year, while 12.1% higher than the five-year average. Cumulative exports are ahead of the steady pace needed to reach the current 5.2 mmt export forecast that was revised 300,000 mt lower in May, although the most recent pace of exports would suggest exports could fall far short of this target.
Canada imported 88,597 mt of soybeans in April, the largest monthly volume imported in three months. Year-to-date, imports total 864,253 mt, up 176% from the same period last crop year. In the May AAFC supply and demand tables, the government increased their import forecast from 650,000 mt to 1 million metric tons, while the current pace would suggest this will easily be surpassed. Soy Canada has identified this as one of the many challenges Canadian growers will face due to the U.S.-China trade war.
Statistics Canada reported 182,453 mt of Canadian corn exported over April, the largest volume shipped in four months, with Ireland and Spain the two largest customers. Year-to-date exports total 986,430 mt, up 60% from the same period in 2017-18 and 94% higher than the five-year average. Cumulative exports continue to trail the steady pace needed to reach the current 2 mmt export forecast for 2018-19.
Canada imported 262,782 mt of corn in April, slightly higher than the previous four-month average. Cumulative imports total 1.814 mmt, potentially on the way to surpass the current 2.5 mmt import target set by AAFC, after revising this forecast 300,000 mt higher in May.
Canada exported 316,105 mt of canola oil in April, the largest monthly volume shipped this crop year. Cumulative exports total 2.393 mmt, up 3.3% from the same period in 2017-18. A reported 119,185 mt of low erucic acid crude oil was shipped to China in April, the largest volume shipped to this destination in five months.
Canada shipped 393,781 mt of canola meal during April, down from the previous month but higher than the previous four-month average. Cumulative exports total 3.432 mmt, up close to 1% from the same period in 2018-19. Exports to China were reported at 93,979 mt, down from the previous month, while the January-through-April total shipped to China is shown at 367,458 mt, down 21% from the 464,945 mt shipped in the same period in 2017-18, with China's reduction in feed demand due to African Swine Fever playing a major role.
Canada's export of pork has been in the news lately, with reports that China has suspended exports from two Canadian plants while other reports indicated that import inspections have increased, a measure to slow movement across the supply chain. In the month of April, movement of all pork/swine products to China totaled 39,243 mt, down 16% from the previous month while remaining close to a constant 42.5% of total exports for the month. Total exports of all products to China in 2019 are reported at 142,802 mt (Jan through April), up 52.5% from the same period in 2019, while bears watching.
Canada's beef trade with Japan is another factor closely watched since the CPTPP trade deal has been implemented. While not a total summary of total beef business conducted with Japan, exports of frozen, boneless bovine cuts exported to Japan is reported at 8,764 mt in the January-through-April period of 2019, up 93% from the same period in 2018 while 135% higher than the three-year average. This also bears watching.
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Cliff Jamieson can be reached at email@example.com
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