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Canadian international merchandise trade, August 2015

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Released: 2015-10-06

Canada's exports declined 3.6% in August while imports edged up 0.2%. Export prices fell 3.0% and volumes 0.6%. For imports, prices were up 0.3% while volumes edged down 0.1%.

As a result, Canada's merchandise trade deficit with the world widened from $817 million in July to $2.5 billion in August.

Chart 1  Chart 1 : Merchandise exports and imports
Merchandise exports and imports

Exports to the United States decline

In August, exports to the United States decreased 3.0% to $33.7 billion and imports from the United States were down 0.8% to $30.8 billion. As a result, Canada's trade surplus with the United States narrowed from $3.7 billion in July to $2.9 billion in August.

Exports to countries other than the United States fell 5.5% to $10.2 billion on lower exports to the United Kingdom (-32.5%). Meanwhile, imports from countries other than the United States increased 2.2% to $15.6 billion, led by a 60.6% rise in imports from the United Kingdom. Consequently, Canada's trade deficit with countries other than the United States widened from $4.5 billion in July to $5.4 billion in August.

Exports down on energy products

Total exports declined 3.6% to $44.0 billion in August. There were decreases in 6 of 11 sections, led by energy products. Exports excluding energy products were down 1.5%. Year over year, total exports decreased 1.6%.

Exports of energy products fell 14.7% to $6.3 billion, almost entirely the result of lower exports of crude oil and crude bitumen (-20.9%). For the section as a whole, prices fell 16.4% while volumes increased 2.0%.

Exports of consumer goods declined 8.0% to $5.9 billion on lower volumes. Following a $608 million increase in July, exports of miscellaneous goods and supplies decreased $545 million to settle at $808 million in August. 'Articles of precious metals' was the main contributor to both the increase in July and decrease in August. In addition, exports of pharmaceutical and medicinal products fell 16.1% to $882 million in August.

Metals and non-metallic mineral products declined 9.7% to $4.5 billion. The main contributor was unwrought precious metals and precious metal alloys, down 20.9% to $1.4 billion. Exports of unwrought, basic and semi-finished aluminum and aluminum-alloy products declined 12.7% to $592 million. Overall, volumes fell 6.6% and prices 3.2%.

Moderating these declines, exports of motor vehicles and parts rose 3.1% to $7.8 billion. This increase was almost entirely the result of higher exports of passenger cars and light trucks, up 4.5% to $5.2 billion. For the section as a whole, prices increased 1.9% and volumes 1.2%.

Exports of metal ores and non-metallic minerals rose 15.7% to $1.7 billion. Volumes were up 22.1% while prices declined 5.3%. In August, there were higher exports of potash (+28.5%) and copper ores and concentrates (+50.7%).

Imports edge up

Imports edged up 0.2% to $46.5 billion in August, the fourth consecutive month of growth. Increases in six sections were largely offset by declines in the remaining five sections. Year over year, imports were up 5.0%.

Imports of consumer goods increased 2.6% to $10.0 billion. There was widespread growth throughout the section, led by pharmaceutical and medicinal products (+6.0%) and miscellaneous goods and supplies (+3.0%). Overall, volumes were up 1.5% and prices 1.2%.

Imports of metal and non-metallic mineral products rose 6.0% to $3.9 billion in August. The main contributor to the advance was unwrought precious metals and precious metal alloys, up 35.6% to $797 million on higher volumes.

Meanwhile, electronic and electrical equipment and parts declined 7.9% to $5.2 billion. Volumes decreased 9.7% while prices were up 2.0%. Imports of communications and audio and video equipment fell 20.7% to $1.6 billion, following two consecutive monthly increases.

Imports of aircraft and other transportation equipment and parts decreased 14.4% to $1.5 billion. Imports of aircraft fell by half to $196 million in August, following a $246 million increase in July.

Revisions to July imports and exports

Revisions reflect initial estimates being updated or replaced with administrative and survey data as they became available, as well as corrections made for late documentation of high-value transactions. July's imports, originally reported as $46.1 billion in last month's release, were revised to $46.4 billion with the current month release. Exports, originally reported as $45.5 billion in last month's release, were revised to $45.6 billion.

Chart 2  Chart 2 : International merchandise trade balance
International merchandise trade balance

  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 trade data by commodity are available on both a BOP and a customs basis. International trade data by country are available on a customs basis for all countries, and on a BOP basis for Canada's 27 principal trading partners (PTPs). The list of PTPs is based on their annual share of total merchandise trade—imports and exports—with Canada in 2012. 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.

For a BOP versus customs-based data conceptual analysis, see Balance of Payments trade in goods at Statistics Canada: Expanding geographic detail to 27 principal trading partners.

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 Seasonally adjusted data – Frequently asked questions.


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, March and April reference months. To remain consistent with the Canadian System of macroeconomic accounts, revisions to BOP based data for previous years are released annually in December with the October 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.

For more information on revisions for crude oil and natural gas, see Revisions to trade data for crude oil and natural gas.

Revised data are available in the appropriate CANSIM tables.

Real-time CANSIM tables

Real-time CANSIM table 228-8059 will be updated on October 16. For more information, consult the document Real-time CANSIM tables.

Next release

Data on Canadian international merchandise trade for September will be released on November 4.


Customs based 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 2015 issue of Canadian International Merchandise Trade, Vol. 69, no. 8 (Catalogue number65-001-X), is also available from the Browse by key resource module of our website under Publications.

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 Nita Boushey (613-404-4965;, International Accounts and Trade Division.

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