Canada Markets

Canada's May Merchandise Trade Report

Cliff Jamieson
By  Cliff Jamieson , Canadian Grains Analyst
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This chart depicts crop-year exports for miscellaneous crops as of the end of May, as a percent of the same period in 2014/15 (blue bars), as a percent of the three-year average (red bars) and as a percent of the current AAFC demand forecasts for the current crop year (green bars). (DTN graphic by Nick Scalise)

The country's trade deficit of $3.28 billion was the second largest on record, next to the revised figure of $3.32 billion in April. This is well-above the $2.70 billion estimated in a Reuters pre-report poll, and was the 21st consecutive monthly trade deficit for the country.

Exports in May fell .7% to $41.1 billion (balance of payments, seasonally adjusted) which was the lowest monthly activity seen for the country since January 2014. It would be easy to gravitate to reduced energy activity in May due to the Fort McMurray fire as behind the poor results for the month, although exports of energy products were 7% higher, with higher prices off-setting a small decline in volume. In total, eight of the 11 subsectors saw month-over-month declines in exports.

The broad Farm, fishing and intermediate food products sub-sector saw exports decline 4.2% from April to $2.5 billion, the lowest level seen since November 2014. Wheat exports for the month were valued at $402 million, the lowest monthly level reported since June 2013. Canola exports were valued at $457 million, a four-month low and other crop product exports were valued at $400.7 million.

Here's a look at export data for selected grains and special crops.

A total volume of 53,841 metric tons of lentils were exported during May, just 21% of the volume shipped in the same month of 2015. It's been since January 2012 since a monthly volume has reached such a low level, which speaks to the dwindling supplies on the Prairies. Crop year-to-date, 2.022 mmt has been exported (August through May) which is 4.9% ahead of the same period in 2014/15 and 29.5% ahead of the three-year average. With 83% of the crop year data now reported, total exports have reached 88% of the 2.3 million metric ton target set by AAFC. Top destinations for the month included Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and U.A.E.

Dry pea exports totaled 144,767 mt in May, a two-month low and just 48% of the volume shipped the same month in 2015. Year-to-date, 2.410 mmt has been exported, 86.7% of the same period in 2014/15 and 98.9% of the three-year average. Cumulative exports have reached 83% of the annual target of 2.9 mmt set by AAFC, on track to reach this volume. The top destination was China for the third straight month, with India and Bangladesh the next largest customers for the month.

Chickpea exports in the month of May totaled 12,732 mt, a two-month low and 6.4% higher than the same month in 2015. Cumulative exports for the crop year total 124,364 mt, 108% higher than the same period last year and 144% higher than the three-year average. The cumulative export volume is on track to reach the current AAFC estimate of 150,000 mt. The largest volumes shipped to the U.S., Pakistan and Turkey in May.

Mustard exports in May totaled 11,034 mt, a three-month high but 6% lower than the same month in 2015. Year-to-date exports total 99,330 mt, 93.8% of year-ago volumes and 92.5% of the three-year average for this period. Cumulative exports are on track to achieve the 120,000 mt demand forecast by AAFC. The largest monthly volume was shipped to the U.S. (46%) and Belgium (35%).

May canary seed exports totaled 13,837 mt, a six-month high and 19.2% below the same month in 2015. Year-to-date exports total 118,429 mt, 80.4% of the same period in 2014/15 and 90.6% of the three-year average. Cumulative crop year exports total 81.7% of the current AAFC demand estimate of 145,000 mt, just slightly behind the cumulative pace needed to each this target. The largest shipments this month were directed to Belgium (46%) and Mexico (9.4%).

May saw 116,823 mt of soybeans exported, a two-month high and just slightly lower than seen in the same month in 2015. Year-to-date exports total 3.748 mmt, 110.4% of the same period in 2014/15 and 118.9% of the three-year average. Cumulative exports are 89.2% of AAFC's 4.2 mmt export forecasts (September through August), indicating that export targets may be revised higher should this pace continue. Exports this month were directed to Japan (38%), Italy (18.5%) and the U.S. (8.3%). Despite China's insatiable demand for the oilseed, they were the fourth largest customer during the month.

Corn exports in the month of May totaled 218,984 mt, below last month's volume while the export volume over the past two months is significantly higher than the previous months this crop year. Since September, a total of 1.027 mmt has been exported, 427.4% of the same period in 2014/15 and 125.2% of the three-year average. Year-to-date exports are just slightly ahead of the pace needed to reach the recently revised export target of 1.350 mmt. Unlike recent months, where exports to the U.S. dominated movement, May activity shows 28% of the volume shipped to Portugal while a further 27% was shipped to the U.S. The balance of the exports was directed to western E.U. countries of Italy, Ireland, Spain and the U.K.

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Cliff Jamieson can be reached at cliff.jamieson@dtn.com

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