The country's merchandise trade balance with all countries in March sharply recovered from the $1.1 billion deficit realized in February, with record exports of $47 billion for all goods leading to a modest $135 million deficit. Exports of both energy products and consumer goods were among the drivers of the favorable data in March, with exports of yellow peas and red lentils to India noted in Statistics Canada commentary. These same two commodities are noted a second time in the Statscan commentary by contributing towards a record high exports (measured in dollars) to countries outside of the United States of $12.4 billion.
The catch-all category of Farm, Fishing and Intermediate Food Products exports slipped lower for the second straight month to 2.1 billion in March. The dollar value of wheat exported fell 5% from the same month in 2016 while the dollar value of canola was up 6.6% from the same month in 2016.
The following includes miscellaneous grain-related trade statistics from Thursday's report.
Lentil exports in March totaled 179,521 metric tons, a two-month high but nearly 90,000 mt below the four-month average. Year-to-date, 2 million metric tons of lentils have been exported (August through March), 5.6% higher than the same period last year while 60.6% higher than the five-year average for this period. Cumulative exports represent 90.9% of the current AAFC forecast of 2.2 mmt for the crop year, with data covering 67% of the crop year. During the month of March, 41.3% of the total volume was shipped to India with volume at a three-month high, although cumulative volumes this crop year are 128,800 mt or 16% below the same period in 2015/16.
Dry pea exports in March totaled 515,364 mt, a six-month high and more than double the four-month average. Year-to-date, 3 mmt of peas have been shipped, 55.2% higher than the same period in 2015/16 and 58.1% higher than the five-year average. Cumulative exports total 93.8% of AAFC's current crop-year target of 3.2 mmt, with data covering 67% of the crop year. During the month of March, 70.7% of the total volume was shipped to India, with a cumulative volume of 1.48 mmt being 48% higher than the same period in 2015/16.
March exports of chickpeas totaled 9,670 mt, a five-month low. Year-to-date, 75,566 mt has been exported, down 20.5% from year-ago volumes but 62% higher than the five-year average. Year-to-date volumes are close to being on track to achieve the current AAFC target of 115,000 mt, with cumulative exports at 65.7% of this target in the first 67% of the crop year.
Mustard exports in the month of March totaled 12,432 mt, a four-month high. Year-to-date volumes total 79,120 mt, .5% higher than the same period in 2015/16 and just 2.1% below the five-year average. Current volumes total 68.8% of the 115,000-mt target set by AAFC, just slightly ahead of the pace needed to reach this target over the balance of the crop year.
Canary seed exports in the month of March were reported at 15,118 mt, a four-month high and the largest volume shipped in the month of March since 2011. Year-to-date, exports total 92,731 mt over the August through March period, 8% below the same period last year and 4.2% below the five-year average. Cumulative shipments total 80.6% of the 115,000-mt export target set by AAFC over the first 67% of the crop year, with exports well ahead of the pace required to achieve this total.
Exports of soybeans fell to 118,406 mt in March as supplies tighten, the lowest monthly activity seen since the crop year began in September while the lowest March volume shipped in four years. Year-to-date, 3.693 mmt has been exported, up 3.8% from the same month in 2016 while 29.4% higher than the five-year average. With data covering 58% of the row-crop crop year, cumulative exports account for 84% of the 4.4 mmt export target set by AAFC. While shipments to China have been the major driver of volumes shipped in almost every month this crop year, shipments to that country plunged in March and volumes shipped to Japan exceeded shipments to China during the month.
Exports of corn reached a four-month high in March at 99,910 mt, the highest volume shipped in the month of March in four years. Year-to-date, 571,325 mt has been exported, up 4.1% from the same period last year while 31.8% higher than the five-year average. Movement remains behind the pace needed to reach the current 1.45 mmt export target set by AAFC, with September through March movement achieving just 39.4% of this target, the first 58% of the crop year. Of this volume, 60.5% of the total monthly movement was shipped to the United States, the lowest monthly share in four months with sales expanded to countries such as Cuba and the United Kingdom during the month.
Exports of flax totaled 45,259 mt in March, a four-month low. In the first eight months of the crop year, a total volume of 382,165 mt has been exported, 22% higher than both the 2015/16 crop year and the five-year average. Year-to-date volumes remains slightly behind the pace needed to reach the current AAFC crop-year total of 600,000 mt. China remains the largest buyer, with the United States a distant second while small shipments were recorded to 25 other countries.
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