Canada Markets

Canada's September Merchandise Trade

Cliff Jamieson
By  Cliff Jamieson , Canadian Grains Analyst
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Canada's trade deficit with all markets fell by $135 million, to $416 million, in the month of September. While viewed as positive at first glance, a revision saw the August trade surplus of $526 million changed to a trade deficit of $551 million due to the late receipt of import data surrounding the purchase of ships. The October report indicated that the trade surplus for the month of August was the first since December 2016.

During the month of September, the value of imports fell but still offset the dollar value of exports, which also fell .2% this month to $50.4 billion. Statistics Canada notes a drop in the value of dry pea and lentil exports during the month contributing to a drop of 10.7% in the Other food products category, tied to the decline in exports to India due to that county's pursuit of higher domestic production.

The broad Farm, fishing and intermediate food products category exports were reported at $2.863 billion in September, the highest value reported in three months, while up 8% from the same month in 2017. A narrower Farm and fishing products category saw sales reported at $2.217 billion, also the largest value exported in three months and 5.9% higher than the same month in 2017.

The following is a look at miscellaneous trade data reported for the month.

September lentil exports were reported at 153,239 metric tons for the month, down from the month of August and the smallest September volume shipped in seven years. The largest buyers for the month were Bangladesh, Turkey and Mexico, with India being the fourth largest customer this month. Year-to-date exports are reported at 311,954 mt, up 39.3% from the same period last crop year and 2.2% higher than the five-year average for this two-month period. Cumulative exports have reached 16.4% of the 1.9-million-metric-ton export target set by AAFC, close to being on track to reach this forecast despite being revised 100,000 mt higher in AAFC's October supply and demand estimates.

Dry pea exports were reported at 465,124 mt, the largest monthly volume shipped in 12 months. China was the biggest buyer this month, taking 76.6% of the month's volume. Year-to-date exports total 577,336 mt, down 25.7% from the same period last crop year and down 30.4% from the five-year average. Cumulative exports represent 20.6% of the current AAFC export demand forecast of 2.8 mmt, ahead of the pace needed to reach this target, after AAFC's export forecast was revised 100,000 mt lower in its October supply and demand estimates.

Chickpea exports were reported at 6,476 mt in October, the largest monthly volume reported in eight months although down 35.6% from September 2017. A reported 59% of the volume was shipped to Pakistan, while close to 20% was shipped to the United States. Year-to-date exports for the first two months of the crop year total 8,121 mt, down 46.7% from the same period last crop year and 38.1% behind the five-year average. Cumulative exports have reached just 7.1% of the current 115,000-mt export demand forecast, well behind the place needed to reach this target, even after AAFC revised this estimate lower by 20,000 mt in their October estimates.

Canada's mustard exports were reported at 7,652 mt in September, down from the previous month and the smallest September exports reported in six years. Cumulative exports are reported at 15,590 mt, down 10% from the same period in 2017 and down 15.7% from the five-year average. Cumulative exports have reached 13% of the crop year estimate released by AAFC, behind the steady pace needed to reach the target, which was reduced by 5,000 mt in October to 120,000 mt.

Canary seed exports were reported at 9,051 mt in September, the smallest volume shipped in three months and down 11.7% from the same month in 2017/18. Year-to-date exports total 19,976 mt, up 1% from the same period last crop year and 9% behind the five-year average. Cumulative exports have reached 17.4% of the current export target of 115,000 mt, ahead of the pace needed to reach this target, after AAFC increased this target by 10,000 mt in October.

Flax exports were reported at 10,983 mt in September, down sharply from the previous month and the lowest September exports reported in three years. Year-to-date, 69,749 mt has been exported, up 13.9% from the same period last crop year 13.5% higher than the five-year average. This volume has reached 17.4% of AAFC's current export target of 400,000 mt, on track to achieve this volume, which would be the lowest volume exported since 2011/12.

Soybean exports were reported at 189,316 mt in September, the first month of the 2018/19 row-crop crop year, which appears to be the largest volume ever shipped during the month of September. After taking only a modest volume in August, China stepped up this month to take 126,457 mt, or roughly two-thirds of the volume. This volume is 68.5% higher than the volume shipped in September 2017 while is 63.5% higher than the five-year average for this month. The month's exported volume represents just 3.3% of the current 5.7 mmt export target set by AAFC for the crop year, well-behind the pace needed to reach this target although bigger months are sure to lie ahead.

Statistics Canada reported soybean imports of 100,647 mt in September, with the largest share of 94,039 mt imported from the U.S. This volume is up 601% from the five-year average of 13,412 mt for this two-month period, while represents 25% of the 100,000 mt import forecast released by AAFC in October for the entire crop year. The price imbalance along the border is sure to lead to higher than expected imports of U.S. product, a concern expressed by Soy Canada in a number of media interviews.

Corn exports were reported at 85,114 mt in September, the smallest monthly volume shipped in six months but looking back, likely the largest September volume ever shipped. The largest buyers were Ireland, who was shipped 73% of the volume, while the U.S. was shipped close to 27% of the total volume. This volume is 41.7% higher than September 2017, while 91.8% higher than the five-year average. At the same time, shipments in September are behind the steady pace needed to reach the current 1.8 mmt export target set by AAFC, a target that was revised 200,000 mt higher in AAFC's October supply and demand estimates.

Canadian users imported 205,973 mt of corn in September, of which 97% originated from the U.S. This would suggest movement ahead of the pace that would lead to AAFC's 1.4 mmt-import forecast for the crop year. Of this volume, 94,480 mt was imported into Saskatchewan and Alberta, close to 50% of the total and up sharply from the 11,625 mt imported into these two provinces in the year prior over this two-month period.

Statistics Canada reported 273,323 mt of canola oil exported in September, the largest volume in three months and 31% higher than the same month in 2017. Cumulative oil exports are 30% higher than the same period in 2017/18. Meal exports totaled 415,956 mt, the largest volume shipped in five months and 17.6% higher than the same month last crop year. Cumulative exports are 16% higher than the same two-month period in 2017/18.

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

Follow him on Twitter @CliffJamieson

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