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Canadian international merchandise trade, August 2013

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Released: 2013-10-08

Canada's merchandise imports grew 2.1% in August, while exports were up 1.8%. As a result, Canada's trade deficit with the world went from $1.2 billion in July to $1.3 billion in August.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Exports and imports - Description and data table
Exports and imports

Chart 1: Exports and imports - Description and data table

Imports grew to $41.1 billion, led by energy products, aircraft and other transportation equipment and parts, and motor vehicles and parts. Overall, volumes rose 1.2% and prices were up 0.9%.

Exports increased to $39.8 billion, as volumes grew 1.4% and prices edged up 0.4%. Energy products and metal and non-metallic mineral products were the main contributors to the increase in exports.

Exports to the United States increased 1.9% to $30.1 billion, their highest value since December 2011. Imports from the United States edged up 0.1% to $26.1 billion. Consequently, Canada's trade surplus with the United States widened from $3.4 billion in July to $4.0 billion in August.

Imports from countries other than the United States rose 5.8% to $14.9 billion, on the strength of imports of crude oil and crude bitumen. Exports to countries other than the United States increased 1.6% to $9.7 billion. The principal trading areas "other OECD countries" (+13.0%) and "all other countries" (+3.1%) were the main contributors to this advance. These gains were partially offset by lower exports to the European Union (-7.1%). As a result, Canada's trade deficit with countries other than the United States widened from $4.6 billion in July to $5.3 billion in August.

Crude oil and crude bitumen as well as aircraft lead increase in imports

Imports of energy products rose 12.5% to $3.7 billion in August, on the strength of crude oil and crude bitumen (+21.4%), as well as refined petroleum energy products (+18.2%). Imports of these commodities rose on higher volumes. Imports of natural gas, down 25.9% to $320 million, partially offset the section's increase.

Imports of aircraft and other transportation equipment and parts grew 27.1% to $1.4 billion, entirely on higher volumes. Following a decline to $39 million in July, imports of aircraft increased to $366 million in August.

Imports of motor vehicles and parts rose 1.9% to $7.2 billion. Passenger cars and light trucks was the main contributor to the increase, rising 6.4% to $3.1 billion, as volumes grew 6.3%.

Imports of metal ores and non-metallic minerals declined 11.9% to $874 million, as volumes were down 15.6%. Leading the decrease in imports was other metal ores and concentrates (-12.0%), mainly lead and zinc ores and concentrates, as well as precious metal ores and concentrates, and precious metal bullion.

Exports rise on higher volumes

Exports of energy products increased for a third consecutive month, rising 4.7% to $9.6 billion in August. Volumes were up 3.3% and prices increased 1.4%. Crude oil and crude bitumen led the gain in energy products exports, rising 4.4% to $7.0 billion. Also contributing to the section's growth were refined petroleum energy products as well as other energy products, such as coal.

Exports of metal and non-metallic mineral products rose 8.2% to $4.5 billion in August, following an 11.7% decline in July. Higher exports of unwrought iron, steel and ferro-alloys, and basic and semi-finished ferrous metal products (+23.0%) as well as unwrought precious metals and precious metal alloys (+8.5%) were the main contributors to the gain in August. Overall, volumes were up 6.8%.

Exports of farm, fishing and intermediate food products fell 10.6% to $2.1 billion, as all commodity groups recorded decreases. Other crop products, principally oats and corn, led the decline, entirely on lower volumes (-18.4%).

Chart 2  Chart 2: Trade balance - Description and data table
Trade balance

Chart 2: Trade balance - Description and data table

  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.

Note regarding current US government shutdown

Under a 1990 agreement between Canada and the United States, each country uses the other's import data in lieu of its own export data. While data for the current release (August reference month) are unaffected by the current US government shutdown, a continued shutdown will impede Statistics Canada's ability to release a complete picture of Canadian trade statistics for the September reference period on November 5. Specifically, data on Canadian exports to the United States would be unavailable. Statistics Canada will continue to monitor the situation and will provide further information to users as it becomes available.


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 four years were released 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 section 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.

These data are now available in the Canadian International Merchandise Trade Database (Catalogue number65F0013X). From the Browse by key resource module of our website, choose Publications.

The August 2013 issue of Canadian International Merchandise Trade, Vol. 67, no. 8 (Catalogue number65-001-X), is also now available from the Browse by key resource module of our website under Publications.

Data on Canadian international merchandise trade for September will be released on November 5.

Contact information

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300;

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Alec Forbes (613-951-0325), International Trade Division.

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