After two consecutive months of strong growth, Canada’s exports leveled off in April while imports rose slightly, netting a surplus of CA$1.5 billion.
While imports grew by 1.9% and exports were up by 0.6% in nominal terms, a closer look reveals that the increase came solely from rising prices, as imports fell by 0.4% and exports declined by 2.1% in volume.
Consumer goods continued to show healthy growth, a clear sign of strong consumer spending despite rising interest rates. In particular, imports of clothing, footwear and accessories were strong, jumping by 24.2%.
Clothing was among the categories hit hardest during the pandemic, and it is finally emerging from the lockdown era.
Exports in April painted a mixed picture. Seafood exports enjoyed spectacular growth of 52.4% because of increases in both prices and volume. Seafood relies on the economy being open because it is most often consumed in restaurants and at events, and that demand remained strong with the economy fully open in many countries. In addition, seafood supplies benefited from an earlier season.
Energy exports fell by 0.9% primarily because of oil sands maintenance in Alberta, which was expected. That decline was partially offset by increases in exports of natural gas (48.4% higher) and coal (62.8%).
Global demand and geopolitical conditions all point to energy exports continuing to rise in the coming months and leading Canada’s trade. When consumer demand weakens with rising interest rates and inflation, imports might buck the growth trend that has taken place this year.