The Daily
 In the news  Indicators  Releases by subject
 Special interest  Release schedule  Information

Canadian international merchandise trade, September 2015

Warning View the most recent version.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please "contact us" to request a format other than those available.

Released: 2015-11-04

Canada's imports declined 1.3% in September while exports increased 0.7%. Import volumes fell 2.1% and prices increased 0.8%. For exports, volumes were up 0.7% and prices were unchanged.

Consequently, Canada's merchandise trade deficit with the world narrowed from $2.7 billion in August to $1.7 billion in September.

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

Trade deficit with non-US countries narrows

Imports from countries other than the United States decreased 3.1% to $15.5 billion in September, on lower imports from the United Kingdom (-$430 million). Meanwhile, exports to countries other than the United States increased 4.0% to $10.6 billion. There were higher exports to Turkey (+$151 million), Spain (+$126 million) and India (+$114 million). Consequently, Canada's trade deficit with countries other than the United States narrowed from $5.8 billion in August to $4.9 billion in September.

Imports from the United States were down 0.4% to $30.8 billion in September and exports declined 0.3% to $33.9 billion. As a result, Canada's trade surplus with the United States edged up from $3.15 billion in August to $3.17 billion in September.

Imports down on lower volumes

Following four consecutive monthly increases, total imports declined 1.3% to $46.2 billion in September. The main contributor to the decrease in imports was metal and non-metallic mineral products. Year over year, total imports were up 3.5%.

Imports of metal and non-metallic mineral products fell 14.3% to $3.5 billion. Overall, volumes decreased 13.3% and prices were down 1.2%. Imports of unwrought precious metals and precious metal alloys declined by $434 million to reach $580 million in September, following a $364 million gain in August. Imports of this commodity grouping tend to fluctuate on a month-to-month basis.

Imports of energy products were down 12.3% to $2.5 billion in September. The main contributor to the decline was crude oil and crude bitumen, down 19.6% to $1.2 billion. For the section as a whole, volumes fell 12.1% and prices 0.2%.

Motor vehicles and parts declined 2.7% to $8.4 billion, following six consecutive monthly increases. Imports of motor vehicle engines and motor vehicle parts were down 6.9% to $3.5 billion in September. For the section as a whole, imports rose 7.6% year over year on higher prices.

Imports of basic and industrial chemical, plastic and rubber products decreased 5.2% to $3.8 billion. Overall, volumes declined 8.0% and prices increased 3.1%. Imports of basic chemicals fell $214 million to $802 million in September, following a $179 million increase in August.

In the third quarter, overall imports increased 2.4% from the second quarter. However, in real (or volume) terms, quarterly imports edged down 0.2%.

Consumer goods and energy products lead the gain in exports

Total exports increased 0.7% to $44.5 billion in September. Higher exports of consumer goods, energy products, and metal and non-metallic mineral products were moderated by lower exports of motor vehicles and parts. Exports excluding energy products were up 0.2%. Year over year, total exports were down 0.7%.

Exports of consumer goods increased 4.6% to $6.2 billion on higher volumes. Pharmaceutical and medicinal products rose 20.8% to $1.1 billion in September.

Exports of energy products increased 3.7% to $7.0 billion in September. The main contributor to the increase was crude oil and crude bitumen, up 2.7% to $4.6 billion. For the section as a whole, prices increased 4.1% and volumes were down 0.4%.

Metal and non-metallic mineral products were up 3.2% to $4.7 billion in September. Exports of unwrought copper and copper alloys rose from $109 million in August to reach $239 million in September on higher volumes.

Moderating these gains were exports of motor vehicles and parts, which declined 3.7% to $7.5 billion in September. Widespread decreases in the section were led by passenger cars and light trucks, down 4.9% to $4.9 billion. For the section as a whole, volumes declined 4.8% and prices were up 1.1%.

Total exports rose 4.0% in the third quarter. In real (or volume) terms, quarterly exports increased 2.9% from the second quarter.

Revisions to August 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. August's imports, originally reported as $46.5 billion in last month's release, were revised to $46.8 billion with the current month release. Exports, originally reported as $44.0 billion in last month's release, were revised to $44.2 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 November 16. For more information, consult the document Real-time CANSIM tables.

Next release

Data on Canadian international merchandise trade for October will be released on December 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 September 2015 issue of Canadian International Merchandise Trade, Vol. 69, no. 9 (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.

Report a problem on this page

Is something not working? Is there information outdated? Can't find what you're looking for?

Please contact us and let us know how we can help you.

Privacy notice

Date modified: