Canadian international merchandise trade

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October 2011 (Previous release)

Canada's merchandise exports declined 3.0% and imports rose 1.9% in October. Consequently, Canada's trade balance with the world went from a surplus of $1.0 billion in September to a deficit of $885 million in October.

Exports and imports

Exports and imports

Chart description: Exports and imports

After three consecutive monthly increases, exports decreased to $38.4 billion in October, as both prices and volumes fell. Industrial goods and materials, and energy products sectors led the decline. Automotive products was the only sector to record a gain during the month.

Imports reached a record high of $39.3 billion, as volumes increased 1.3%. Imports of machinery and equipment led the overall increase, followed by energy products and automotive products.

Imports from the United States rose 3.0% to $24.5 billion, the highest value since October 2008, while exports fell 0.9% to $27.6 billion. As a result, Canada's trade surplus with the United States narrowed from $4.1 billion in September to $3.1 billion in October.

Exports to countries other than the United States fell 7.9% to $10.8 billion, after peaking in September 2011. Imports from countries other than the United States edged up 0.1% to $14.7 billion. Canada's trade deficit with countries other than the United States increased from $3.0 billion to $4.0 billion in October.

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 BOP basis, seasonally adjusted in current dollars. Constant dollars are calculated using the Laspeyres volume formula.

Changes to the classification

Statistics Canada has reduced the number of 10-digit Harmonized Commodity Coding and Description System (HS) classification codes that are used to report the commodity detail in Canada's merchandise import trade data. This will improve efficiency, maintain data quality and reduce response burden.

These changes will take effect in January 2012 to coincide with the World Customs Organization 2012 amendments to the 6-digit HS classification codes as well as with Finance Canada's changes to the 2012 Customs Tariff at the 8-digit HS codes. To obtain an HS 2012 Concordance Table, contact the International Trade Division's Marketing and Client Services Section (

Trade balance

 Trade balance

Chart description: Trade balance

Exports decrease in most sectors

After five consecutive monthly increases, exports of industrial goods and materials fell 6.0% to $9.8 billion in October, as prices and volumes fell. Metals and alloys largely contributed to the decline with a 24.5% decrease in exports of precious metals and alloys. Partially offsetting the overall decline were higher exports of metal ores, up 6.7%, on the strength of iron ores, concentrates and scrap.

Exports of energy products decreased 5.8% to $8.9 billion in October. The main contributors to the decline were petroleum and coal products, with a decrease of 20.7%, and coal and other bituminous substances, down 30.6%.

Exports of automotive products increased 4.0% to $5.0 billion in October. Exports of passenger autos and chassis increased 4.7%, mostly due to higher volumes.

Machinery and equipment lead the increase in imports

Imports of machinery and equipment grew 3.8% to $10.7 billion in October, as volumes and prices rose. Other communication and related equipment, mainly cellular telephones, and other transportation equipment, with higher imports of locomotives, led the gain in machinery and equipment.

Imports of energy products increased 3.0% to $4.5 billion. The main contributor to the rise was crude petroleum, gaining 11.5% on the strength of volumes. Petroleum and coal products declined mainly because of lower volumes.

Imports of automotive products rose 1.8% to $6.1 billion. Passenger autos and chassis led the increase, up 8.2%, on the strength of volumes. Partially offsetting the gain was the decline in imports of trucks and other motor vehicles.

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 October 2011 issue of Canadian International Merchandise Trade, Vol. 65, no. 10 (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 November will be released on January 13, 2012.

For more information, contact Statistics Canada's National Contact Centre (613-951-8116; toll-free 1-800-263-1136;, Communications Division.

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Marc Nadeau (613-951-3692), International Trade Division.