Canadian international merchandise trade

Warning View the most recent version.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please "contact us" to request a format other than those available.

Related subjects

    [an error occurred while processing this directive]
April 2011 (Previous release)

Canada's merchandise exports decreased 1.9% in April, following a 4.8% gain in March. Imports also declined, falling 0.6%. As a result, Canada's trade deficit with the world widened from $417 million in March to $924 million in April.


 Exports and imports

Exports decreased to $36.3 billion in April, as volumes declined 1.1% and prices fell 0.9%. The decrease in volume was led by the machinery and equipment sector. The industrial goods and materials, and the automotive sectors contributed the most to the decline in prices.

Imports fell to $37.2 billion, as prices declined 1.5% and volumes rose 1.0%. Imports of automotive products registered the largest decline. The automotive sector, which reported strong gains in March, has been adversely affected by the earthquake and tsunami in Japan in March.

Exports to the United States increased for the second month in a row, edging up 0.3% to $26.9 billion. Imports increased 1.7% to $23.1 billion in April, reaching their highest level since November 2008. Consequently, Canada's trade surplus with the United States narrowed from $4.2 billion in March to $3.9 billion in April.

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 (BOP) 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 BOP based data. The previous year's customs data are revised with the release of the January and February reference months as well as on a quarterly basis. The previous two years of customs based data are revised annually and are released in February with the December reference month. The previous year's BOP based data are revised with the release of the January, February and March reference months. Revisions to BOP based data for the previous three years are released annually in June with the April reference month.

Factors influencing revisions include late receipt of import and export documentation, incorrect information on customs forms, replacement of estimates produced for the energy sector 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.

Exports to countries other than the United States fell 7.9% in April to $9.3 billion, as exports to all principal trading areas declined. Imports decreased 4.1% to $14.1 billion. As a result, Canada's trade deficit with countries other than the United States widened from $4.6 billion in March to $4.8 billion in April.

 Trade balance

Exports: Decline in aircraft and other transportation equipment

Exports of machinery and equipment decreased 7.8% to $6.0 billion in April, almost entirely as a result of a decline in aircraft and other transportation equipment. Volume was the main factor behind the 38.5% decline in aircraft, engines and parts.

Industrial goods and materials fell 3.8% to $9.1 billion in April. Precious metals and alloys exports reached their lowest value since September 2010, primarily as a result of lower exports of gold and silver. Smelter shutdowns in Japan and a decrease in demand from China lowered exports of copper in ores. Moderating this decline was an increase in exports of nickel in ores.

Exports of agricultural and fishing products increased 9.9% to $3.4 billion in April, mainly as a result of rising volumes. The increase was led by canola and other crude vegetable products.

Energy products rose 0.6% to $9.3 billion, as a result of offsetting movements in petroleum and coal products, and crude petroleum. Higher volumes led the increase in petroleum and coal products, primarily gasoline, in advance of the summer driving season. Retooling of refineries in the United States contributed to the decrease in exports of crude petroleum.

Automotive products: Major contributor to decrease in imports

Automotive products were the major contributor to the decrease in imports, falling 8.6% to $5.6 billion in April. This decline occurred as a result of production and supply chain problems stemming from the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Imports of passenger autos and chassis fell 21.9% to $1.6 billion. Motor vehicle parts also contributed to the decline in the sector, falling 7.3% to $2.4 billion. Production of motor vehicle parts in Japan decreased in April, as manufacturing facilities were adversely affected by the natural disaster. This resulted in lower imports of automotive parts and contributed to lower imports of passenger autos and chassis from Japan. Moderating these two declines were imports of trucks and other motor vehicles, which increased 7.2% to $1.6 billion.

Energy products declined 3.1% to $4.4 billion, mainly as a result of lower imports of crude petroleum. Imports of petroleum and coal products, mainly light oils and fuel blends, increased 14.4% to a record high of $1.6 billion. This rise was attributed to refinery shutdowns and pipeline closures.

Imports of industrial goods and materials reached their highest value since July 2008, rising 3.4% to $8.1 billion in April. The bulk of this increase came from higher imports of chemicals and plastics, in particular, other chemicals and related products and organic chemicals. Lower imports of metals and metal ores moderated the gains in this sector, as both metals in ores, concentrates and scrap, and precious metals and alloys fell in April.

Imports of machinery and equipment rose 0.2% to $10.2 billion in April. Both industrial and agricultural machinery, and office machines and equipment, increased for a third consecutive month. Higher imports of engines, turbines and motors led to a 7.2% increase in industrial and agricultural machinery, while office machines and equipment advanced 5.2%. These two gains were almost offset by lower imports of aircraft and other transportation equipment.

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 and 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 April 2011 issue of Canadian International Merchandise Trade, Vol. 65, no. 4 (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 May will be released on July 12.

For further information, contact Statistics Canada's National Contact Centre (613-951-8116; toll-free 1-800-263-1136; To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Marc Nadeau (613-951-3692), International Trade Division.