Canadian international merchandise trade

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November 2010 (Previous release)

Canada's merchandise imports declined 3.2% to $34.4 billion in November, led by a 15.1% drop in volumes of energy products. Overall, import volumes fell 2.4% and prices, down 0.8%, decreased for a fourth consecutive month.

Exports and imports

Energy products and machinery and equipment were the main factors behind the decrease in the value of imports. Conversely, imports of industrial goods and materials rose, as a result of solid gains in imports of precious metals.

Exports increased 0.8% to $34.3 billion, as prices, up 2.8%, rose in most sectors. Prices of industrial goods and materials increased 3.9% and led the growth in overall exports.

Export volumes fell 2.0%, with volumes of automotive products declining 10.0% as some plants closed temporarily in November.

As a result, Canada's trade deficit with the world narrowed to $81 million in November from $1.5 billion in October.

Exports to the United States increased 0.6% while imports fell 5.1%, reflecting a drop in imports of automotive products. Consequently, Canada's trade surplus with the United States rose to $3.0 billion in November from $1.7 billion in October.

Exports to countries other than the United States grew 1.1%, a fifth consecutive month of increases, while imports remained virtually unchanged. As a result, Canada's trade deficit with countries other than the United States declined from $3.2 billion in October to $3.1 billion in November.

Note to readers

Merchandise trade is one component of Canada's international balance of payments, which also includes trade in services, investment income, current transfers as well as capital and financial flows.

International merchandise trade data by country are available on both a balance of payments and a customs basis for the United States, Japan and the United Kingdom. Trade data for all other individual countries are available on a customs basis only. Balance of payments data are derived from customs data by making adjustments for characteristics such as valuation, coverage, timing and residency. These adjustments are made to conform to the concepts and definitions of the Canadian System of National Accounts.

Data in this release are on a balance of payments basis, seasonally adjusted in current dollars. Constant dollars are calculated using the Laspeyres volume formula.


In general, merchandise trade data are revised on an ongoing basis for each month of the current year. Current year revisions are reflected in both the customs and balance of payments based data. Revisions to customs based data for the previous year are released on a quarterly basis. Revisions to balance of payments based data for the three previous years are released annually in June.

Factors influencing revisions include late receipt of import and export documentation, incorrect information on customs forms, replacement of estimates with actual figures, changes in classification of merchandise based on more current information, and changes to seasonal adjustment factors.

Revised data are available in the appropriate CANSIM tables.

Trade balance

Widespread declines in imports

Following a solid gain in October, imports of energy products fell 15.2% to $3.1 billion in November. Lower imports of petroleum and coal products, such as motor gasoline, were the main factor behind the decrease. Imports of crude petroleum, down 11.7%, were at their lowest level since May 2009.

After nine consecutive months of growth, imports of machinery and equipment declined 5.1% to $9.6 billion, with volumes falling 3.3%. Other transportation equipment decreased in November, reflecting lower imports of ships and boats. This followed a strong gain in October, as new tariff relief measures on ships and boats came into effect. Imports of engines, turbines and motors, more specifically wind turbines, fell 26.0%.

Automotive products imports decreased 4.4% to $5.3 billion, mainly a result of lower volumes. Imports of trucks and other motor vehicles fell 11.5%, as a result of declining imports of full size pick-up trucks. Imports of motor vehicle parts declined 6.3%, as a result of some plant shutdowns in preparation for 2011 model changeovers.

Imports of industrial goods and materials increased 2.3% to $7.6 billion, as prices rose 3.3%. Imports of precious metals, namely silver, rose 24.3% to $1.3 billion, a record high. Other chemicals and related products, which include inorganic chemicals and fertilizers, also contributed to the gain in the sector. Imports of metals in ores fell during the month.

Precious metals lead the gain in exports

Exports of industrial goods and materials rose 6.6% to $9.5 billion, as prices and volumes increased. Metals and alloys increased 21.7% to $4.2 billion, led by exports of precious metals. In contrast, metal ores declined 17.7% to $1.3 billion. Record high exports of iron ores were not sufficient to overcome the large declines in exports of nickel ores and copper ores.

Energy products exports increased 3.2% to $6.9 billion, as prices were up 3.6%. Exports of crude petroleum rose 12.5%, largely accounting for the increase in the sector. Exports of natural gas, down 17.1%, decreased for a fourth consecutive month.

Other consumer goods exports increased 11.5% to $1.3 billion, largely on the strength of medicinal and pharmaceutical products.

Exports of automotive products, trending downward since May 2010, fell 10.4% to $4.4 billion. The decrease was the result of a 10.0% decline in volumes. Passenger autos, down 13.0%, accounted for over three-quarters of the drop in the sector. Exports of motor vehicle parts, as well as trucks and other motor vehicles, decreased in November.

Exports of machinery and equipment decreased 2.4% to $6.4 billion, as volumes fell. Widespread declines in the sector were led by lower exports of industrial machinery. A gain in exports of aircrafts, engines and parts moderated the overall decrease.

Available on CANSIM: tables 228-0001 to 228-0003, 228-0033, 228-0034, 228-0041 to 228-0043 and 228-0047 to 228-0057.

The merchandise imports and exports data in the following tables are presented in dollar values.

Tables 228-0001 to 228-0003: Customs and balance of payments basis, by major groups and principal trading areas for all countries; monthly, quarterly, and annual.

Table 228-0033: Imports, customs-based, by province of clearance, monthly.

Table 228-0034: Domestic exports, customs-based, by province of origin, monthly.

Tables 228-0041 to 228-0043: Customs and balance of payments basis, by sector and sub-sector, for all countries; monthly, quarterly, and annual.

The merchandise imports and exports data in the following tables are indexes (2002 = 100).

Tables 228-0047 to 228-0049: Balance of payments and customs-based price and volume indexes for all countries; monthly, quarterly, and annual.

Tables 228-0050 to 228-0052: Customs-based price indexes, Canada and United States trade, and Standard International Trade Classification (SITC revision 3) price indexes for all countries and United States; monthly, quarterly, and annual.

Tables 228-0053 to 228-0055: Price and volume indexes customs and balance of payments basis, by sector and sub-sector, for all countries; monthly, quarterly, and annual.

Tables 228-0056 to 228-0057: Balance of payments basis, by sector, seasonally adjusted, Fisher formula, chained 2002 dollars, for all countries; monthly and quarterly.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey numbers, including related surveys, 2201, 2202 and 2203.

These data are available in the Canadian international merchandise trade database.

The November 2010 issue of Canadian International Merchandise Trade, Vol. 64, no. 11 (65-001-X, free), is now available from the Key resource module of our website under Publications.

Current account data (which incorporate merchandise trade statistics, service transactions, investment income and transfers) are available quarterly in Canada's Balance of International Payments (67-001-X, free).

Data on Canadian International Merchandise Trade for December will be released on February 11.

For further information regarding Canada's international merchandise trade data, contact Statistics Canada's National Contact Centre (613-951-8116; toll-free: 1-800-263-1136; fax: 613-951-0581; toll-free: 1-877-287-4369; TTY: 1-800-363-7629

Our agents are available Monday to Friday (except holidays) from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Mychèle Gagnon (613-951-0994), International Trade Division.