Canadian international merchandise trade, October 2012

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Canada's merchandise imports declined 1.2% while exports increased 1.0% in October. As a result, Canada's trade deficit with the world narrowed from $1.0 billion in September to $169 million in October.

Chart 1 
Exports and imports
Chart 1: Exports and imports

Chart description: Exports and imports

CSV version of chart 1

Imports declined to $38.3 billion, a 5.7% drop since reaching a record high in June 2012. Volumes were down 1.8% in October, as widespread decreases were recorded.

Exports increased to $38.1 billion in October, as both prices and volumes were up. Exports of farm, fishing and intermediate food products led the gains in exports while metal ores and non-metallic minerals recorded the largest decline.

Imports from the United States rose 1.6% to $24.6 billion and exports edged down 0.2% to $27.4 billion. Consequently, Canada's trade surplus with the United States decreased from $3.2 billion in September to $2.8 billion in October.

Imports from countries other than the United States fell 5.8% to $13.7 billion. Exports rose 4.2% to $10.7 billion, mainly on higher exports of farm, fishing and intermediate food products. Consequently, Canada's trade deficit with countries other than the United States declined from $4.2 billion in September to $2.9 billion in October.

Widespread decreases in import volumes

Imports of basic and industrial chemical, plastic and rubber products fell 8.4% to $3.0 billion in October. A 39.4% decline in import volumes of lubricants and other petroleum refinery products largely contributed to the overall decrease.

Imports of metal and non-metallic mineral products declined 5.7% to $3.4 billion in October. Unwrought precious metals and precious metal alloys, down 11.0%, was the main factor behind the decrease as volumes fell 14.2%.

Imports of electronic and electrical equipment and parts declined 3.1% to $4.3 billion in October, a fourth consecutive monthly decrease. Widespread decreases were registered throughout the section with communications and audio and video equipment (-8.5%) posting the largest decline.

Imports of consumer goods increased 1.6% to $7.7 billion in October, as volumes rose. Imports of pharmaceutical and medicinal products, up 10.8% to $1.2 billion, led the overall increase.

Farm, fishing and intermediate food products lead the gains in exports

In October, exports of farm, fishing and intermediate food products reached a record high of $2.8 billion, up 18.3%. This was the fourth consecutive monthly increase. In October, strong gains were recorded in exports of other crop products, mainly soybeans, as well as canola. Farm, fishing and intermediate food products volumes rose 15.8%.

Exports of energy products increased 3.0% to $8.4 billion in October, as prices rose 4.0%. This was the third consecutive monthly increase. Exports of crude oil and crude bitumen led the gain, up 5.0% to $6.0 billion, as both prices and volumes increased.

Exports of metal and non-metallic mineral products grew 5.1% to $4.6 billion, as volumes increased 10.9%. Leading the overall gain were higher exports of unwrought nickel and nickel alloys, up 47.6%. Recording its first gain in eight months, unwrought, basic and semi-finished aluminum and aluminum alloy products also contributed to the increase.

Exports of metal ores and non-metallic minerals fell 21.9% to $1.3 billion in October. Exports of iron ores and concentrates (-51.7%) and copper ores and concentrates (-37.7%) were the main contributors to the decrease. The overall decline was entirely the result of lower volumes.

Exports of aircraft and other transportation equipment and parts also declined, down 10.8% to $1.5 billion, on lower volumes. Exports of aircraft fell 26.3% in October.

Chart 2 
Trade balance
Chart 2: Trade balance

Chart description: Trade balance

CSV version of chart 2

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 (2007=100).

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


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, free of charge.

Available without charge in CANSIM: tables CANSIM table228-0058 to 228-0068.

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 (Catalogue number65F0013X, free), is now available from the Key resource module of our website under Publications.

The October 2012 issue of Canadian International Merchandise Trade, Vol. 66, no. 10 (Catalogue number65-001-X, free), is also 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 November will be released on January 11, 2013.

For more information, contact us (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.