According to recent reports from Statistics Canada, Canada’s gold exports in April exceeded record highs. Canada’s merchandise exports increased by 2.5% in April, allowing the nation to hit an all-time record high that even surpassed the pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels. At the same time, imports dropped by 0.2%, giving Canada a merchandise trading surplus of $1.9 billion compared to March’s figure of $231 million.
Canada’s exports declined for two consecutive months before April’s excellent results. As the second quarter of 2023 began, six of the eleven product sectors rose, with metallic and non-metallic mineral products showing the largest increase. The mineral products category showed a spike of 13.6% in export growth, largely contributing to Canada’s export successes in April.
Crude oil exports also increased during April by 7.1% after six consecutive months of declines. With higher prices driving the marketplace, crude oil exports were finally able to increase for just the second time in the last year. Canada also increased its coal exports, primarily to South Korea.
Another significant increase in the report was motor vehicles and related parts, showing a 7.4% rise or a 16.2% year-on-year increase. Transportation and supply chain issues have only begun to ease following tightening complications that arose amid the COVID-19 pandemic. With this ease, shipping and supply movement is improving across many sectors.
Canada’s exports to the United States rose the most significantly compared to other nations. Canada increased its U.S. exports by 4.4%, primarily because of the increased gold exports. Exports to other nations actually decreased by 3.1%, including the U.K. and China, only partially offset by gold purchases from Hong Kong and South Korea.
While numerous product categories contributed to Canada’s excellent export figures in April, gold reigned supreme. “Exports of unwrought gold (+46.0%) posted the largest increase, on both higher volumes and prices,” Statistics Canada explained in the press release.
The rise of gold shipments from Canadian institutions to the United States typically means one thing: economic uncertainty. According to Statistics Canada, this gold exports increase can act as a signal depicting the state of the U.S. economy.
“The gain largely reflected higher transfers of gold assets from Canadian financial institutions to the United States,” the report continued. “These increases came amid a context of economic uncertainty when investors tend to favor safe-haven metals such as gold and silver.”
According to Stuart Bergman, the chief economist at Export Development Canada, these increased export levels likely won’t last.
“The cautionary note is many of those volume shipments reflect those truckloads of gold being shipped down to the U.S., and so certainly that’s not something that we would expect to see repeated in future months,” Bergman explained. “At face value, the headline number is fairly good, but as you dig a little bit deeper, there is cause for some concern as to whether we would expect to see these export gains repeated in May and June.”
Canada’s large surplus in April is a promising sign that the Canadian economy is still holding strong despite its government’s aggressive interest-rate-hiking strategy beginning in March 2022. The Bank of Canada just enacted yet another interest rate hike in June 2023, increasing the rate by another 25 basis points to 4.75%. Following this latest increase, Canada has now reached the highest level it’s been since 2001.
The aggressive strategy surprised the marketplace as most expected a pause this month after the central bank kept rates steady for the last two months in a row. To justify its decision, the central bank explained the continually high inflation rates, strong economic growth amid tight cycles, and poor economic data.
“Governing Council decided to increase the policy interest rate, reflecting our view that monetary policy was not sufficiently restrictive to bring supply and demand back into balance and return inflation sustainably to the 2% target,” The Bank of Canada explained in its release. “Governing Council will continue to assess the dynamics of core inflation and the outlook for CPI inflation.”
Whether or not this action will affect gold exports again is still up in the air. Gold demand continues rising on a global level as economies around the world seek safe-haven assets. Canada contains some of the largest and highest-yielding gold mines in the world, making it the go-to marketplace.
If the economy continues dwindling as it did in April, similar exports may follow the trend indicated in the latest figures from Statistics Canada. As always, investors should consult their financial advisors before making any portfolio decisions.