Canadian international merchandise trade

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August 2011 (Previous release)

Canada's merchandise imports grew 0.7% and exports increased 0.5% in August. As a result, Canada's trade deficit with the world went from $539 million in July to $622 million in August.

Exports and imports

 Exports and imports

Chart description: Exports and imports

Imports increased to $38.5 billion as prices were up 0.8% and volumes decreased 0.1%. All sectors except energy products recorded price increases.

Exports rose to $37.9 billion, as higher prices were recorded in most sectors. Prices increased 1.6% while volumes declined 1.1%. Machinery and equipment, and industrial goods and materials were the main contributors to the gain in the value of exports. Both sectors were up for a fourth consecutive month.

Exports to the United States were down 2.3% to $26.6 billion. Imports from the United States rose 2.0% to $24.1 billion in August, the highest level since October 2008. Canada's trade surplus with the United States decreased from $3.7 billion in July to $2.5 billion in August.

Exports to countries other than the United States increased 7.9% to a record high of $11.2 billion. This represented a fourth consecutive monthly gain. Imports from countries other than the United States fell 1.4% to $14.4 billion. Consequently, Canada's trade deficit with countries other than the United States declined from $4.2 billion in July to $3.2 billion in August.

Note to readers

Merchandise trade is one component of Canada's international balance of payments (BOP), 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 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. BOP data are derived from customs data by making adjustments for factors 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.

New aggregation structure

Statistics Canada will introduce a new aggregation structure, the North American Product Classification System (NAPCS), to organize and present import and export statistics in various programs. The new structure will replace the classification structures known as the summary import groups (SIG) and the summary export groups (SEG) and the higher level aggregations; major groups, subsectors, sectors and sections that have been in use for several decades. The first release of data using the new structure will be on June 8, 2012 for the April reference month.

Readers interested in this upcoming change can find more detailed information on our website page dedicated to classification consultation and notification.

Trade balance

 Trade balance

Chart description: Trade balance

Imports increase in most sectors

Imports of machinery and equipment gained 2.5% to reach $10.5 billion in August, as a result of widespread gains. The increase in the sector was a result of higher prices. Imports of aircraft and other transportation equipment led the increase in value of imports.

Imports of automotive products increased 2.3% to $6.2 billion, as prices rose 2.0%. Imports of passenger autos and chassis rose for a fourth consecutive month. Trucks and other motor vehicles reached a record high in August as both price and volumes rose.

Imports of industrial goods and materials increased 1.7% to a record high of $8.3 billion. This gain was primarily attributed to chemicals and plastics, as other chemicals and related products rose 10.0%.

Moderating the overall increase in imports, the energy products sector declined 13.6% to $3.9 billion as crude petroleum fell 25.3%. The sector experienced growth in the early months of 2011, reaching $5.1 billion in May.

Machinery and equipment leads the gain in exports

Exports of machinery and equipment rose 7.3% to $7.4 billion in August, as volumes were up 5.5%. Aircraft and other transportation equipment increased for a fourth consecutive month, gaining 18.0% in August. Also contributing to the rise in the sector was other machinery and equipment with an increase of 4.1%.

Exports of industrial goods and materials posted an increase of 2.0% to $10.1 billion in August. Precious metals and alloys; and nickel ores, concentrates and scrap recorded the largest gains in the sector. These increases were partially offset by declines in exports of copper ores, concentrates and scrap.

Exports of energy products decreased 2.7% to $8.5 billion in August, led by declines in petroleum and coal products. Exports of crude petroleum have been trending downward after reaching a record high in January 2011.

Exports of automotive products decreased 7.5% to $4.5 billion as volumes fell 10.1%. Passenger autos and chassis was the primary contributor, declining 11.1%.

Note: 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 (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.

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 August 2011 issue of Canadian International Merchandise Trade, Vol. 65, no. 8 (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 September will be released on November 10.

For more 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.