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Analysis

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Higher volumes of automotive products lead the gain in exports

Exports of automotive products increased 8.1% to $4.5 billion, as volumes rose 11.3%. Exports of passenger cars increased 11.7% in order to replenish inventories of strong selling Canadian manufactured models. Exports of passenger cars have been on an upward trend since May 2009. Motor vehicle parts and trucks also posted gains in December.

Exports of machinery and equipment grew 3.4% to $6.3 billion, due to rising volumes. Higher exports of aircraft and industrial machinery were the main factors behind the increase. Declining exports of telecommunication equipment mitigated the gain in the sector.

Energy products exports were up 1.5% to $7.8 billion, the result of a 5.7% gain in prices as volumes fell 3.9%. Exports of natural gas grew 5.8% and have been rising since May 2009. Before this period, exports of natural gas had declined for ten consecutive months, as inventories remained high due to weak demand. Exports of petroleum and coal products increased 5.0% while exports of electricity declined 22.6%, thereby moderating the growth in this sector.

Other crude non-metallic minerals largely accounted for the decrease in exports of industrial goods and material, which fell 1.1% to $6.8 billion. Exports of nickel ores and precious metals also decreased, while iron ores posted a gain.

Imports rise on the strength of automotive products

Imports of automotive products increased 6.0% to $5.8 billion, continuing the upward trend that began in June 2009. Imports of motor vehicle parts increased 11.1%, reflecting the higher demand from the United States. Imports of passenger cars grew 3.2% led by imports of cars from overseas. Trucks and other motor vehicles also posted gains.

Imports of industrial goods and materials grew 3.0% to $6.3 billion as volumes increased 2.0%. Imports of metals in ores, namely iron ores, grew 17.1% followed by precious metals which gained 12.9% in December.

Imports of energy products grew 5.4% to $3.3 billion as prices rose 7.2%. Imports of crude petroleum grew 17.0%, while imports of coal and other related products declined in December. The gain in imports of energy products represented the third consecutive monthly increase.

Imports of machinery and equipment fell 2.4% to $8.6 billion as imports of aircraft and other transportation equipment declined 16.6%. Other communication equipment, such as high definition flat panel televisions, smart phones and digital cameras, were also a factor behind the decline in the sector.