Canadian international merchandise trade, July 2012

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Canada's merchandise exports fell 3.4% and imports decreased 2.2% in July. As a result, Canada's trade deficit with the world expanded from $1.9 billion in June to $2.3 billion in July.

Chart 1 
Exports and imports
Chart 1: Exports and imports

Chart description: Exports and imports

CSV version of the chart

Exports fell to $37.7 billion as volumes decreased 2.0%. Energy products were the main contributor to the fall in exports.

Imports decreased to $40.1 billion, mainly as a result of lower imports of energy products as well as machinery and equipment. Both volumes (-1.2%) and prices (-1.0%) declined.

Exports to the United States fell 5.0% to $27.4 billion in July, while imports declined 2.1% to $25.3 billion. Consequently, Canada's trade surplus with the United States decreased from $3.0 billion in June to $2.1 billion in July, the smallest trade surplus since October 2010.

Imports from countries other than the United States decreased 2.4% to $14.7 billion while exports rose 1.2% to $10.3 billion. As a result, Canada's trade deficit with countries other than the United States narrowed from $4.9 billion in June to $4.4 billion in July.

Energy products: The largest contributor to the decrease in exports

Exports of energy products fell 8.5% to $8.2 billion in July on lower volumes and prices. Crude petroleum exports, down 9.6% to $5.1 billion, led the decline. Prices and volumes of crude petroleum have been trending downwards since January 2012. Exports of petroleum and coal product decreased for a third consecutive month, falling 10.7% to $1.8 billion, mainly the result of lower exports of light oils and fuel oils.

Exports of machinery and equipment decreased 5.5% to $6.7 billion, as widespread decreases were recorded within the sector. Exports of aircraft, engines and parts fell 19.6% on lower volumes.

Exports of automotive products decreased 5.3% to $5.9 billion, largely as a result of exports of passenger autos and chassis, which declined 7.5% to $4.0 billion. Overall, volumes fell 4.7% in July.

Two sectors account for the decline in imports

Imports of energy products declined 12.3% to $3.8 billion, as both volumes and prices fell in July. Petroleum and coal products imports, down 33.5%, accounted for the decrease in the sector.

Imports of machinery and equipment decreased 3.7% to $10.8 billion on lower volumes. The decline in the sector was largely attributed to a 4.7% decrease in imports of other equipment and tools, mainly measuring and controlling instruments as well as air conditioning and refrigeration equipment. Imports of other industrial machinery and office machines and equipment also contributed to the decline in the sector.

Chart 2 
Trade balance
Chart 2: Trade balance

Chart description: Trade balance

CSV version of the chart

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 and in current dollars. Constant dollars are calculated using the Laspeyres volume formula.

For more information on seasonal adjustment, see Seasonal adjustment and identifying economic trends.

New aggregation structure

Statistics Canada will introduce the North American Product Classification System (NAPCS) for merchandise import and export statistics. 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.

Revised data based on NAPCS for the reference period of January 1988 to August 2012 will be disseminated on October 18.

The first regular release of data based on NAPCS will be on November 8 for the September reference month.

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


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 will be revised with the release of the January, February, March and April 2012 reference months.

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, free of charge.

Available without charge in CANSIM: tables CANSIM table228-0001 to 228-0003, CANSIM table228-0033, CANSIM table228-0034, CANSIM table228-0041 to 228-0043 and CANSIM table228-0047 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 subsector, 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 subsector, 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 survey number2201, survey number2202 and survey number2203.

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

The July 2012 issue of Canadian International Merchandise Trade, Vol. 66, no. 7 (Catalogue number65-001-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 (Catalogue number67-001-X, free).

Data on Canadian international merchandise trade for August will be released on October 11.

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

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