FACTS: The Institut de la statistique du Québec today reported new data on Quebec’s international trade according to the North American Product Classification System. They show Quebec’s trade deficit narrowing in November for a third consecutive month (top chart). Exports were up $100 million (+1.8%; Canada −0.9%) to $5.5 billion and imports were down $102 million (−1.4%; Canada: +2.7%) to $7.0 billion. The main contributors to the rise in exports were iron ores and concentrates (+$56 million), aluminum (+$29 million) and iron and steel waste and scrap (+24 million). The decrease in imports came mainly from crude oil (−$188 million) and gasoline (−$145 million). In constant 2007 dollars, the trade balance shrank $100 million to $0.96 billion as exports rose $67 million (+1.2%) and imports fell $29 million (−$0.5%). Export prices rose 0.6% and import prices fell 1%.
OPINION: With Quebec’s international volume exports up so far in Q4 and Canada’s down, the gap in 12-quarter export growth between Quebec (7.1%) and the rest of Canada (13.3%) (middle chart), although still significant, is less gaping than it was in Q3 (Quebec 1.7%, rest of Canada 15.8%). It remains that in the first 11 months of 2012, Quebec’s volume exports were running 0.8% below the same period in 2011. The retreat does much to explain the weakness of Quebec GDP growth in 2012, an anticipated 0.8%. For 2013 we see Quebec international exports growing 3%. In Q4, meanwhile, international trade is contributing to economic growth (bottom chart).