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Canadian international merchandise trade, June 2017

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Released: 2017-08-04

Canada's merchandise trade balance with the world posted a $3.6 billion deficit in June, widening from a $1.4 billion deficit in May. Exports fell 4.3% to $46.5 billion in June. This sharp decrease was mainly due to lower exports of unwrought gold and energy products. Imports edged up 0.3% to $50.1 billion, led by an increase in gold bullion.

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

Decline in exports mainly due to prices

Following three consecutive monthly record highs, total exports fell 4.3% to $46.5 billion in June, as 9 of 11 sections decreased. Prices were down 2.7%, with widespread declines throughout the commodity sections. Export volumes (-1.7%) were also down. Metal and non-metallic mineral products and energy products were the largest contributors to the decrease in export values in June. Exports excluding energy products declined 3.4%. Year over year, total exports were up 12.4%.

Exports of metal and non-metallic mineral products decreased 14.9% to $5.3 billion in June, following a 12.4% increase in May. Unwrought precious metals and precious metal alloys—mainly unwrought gold to the United Kingdom—were down $809 million in June. This follows a record high in May due to an increase in gold transfers within the banking sector. For the section as a whole, volumes decreased 10.0% and prices were down 5.5%.

Also contributing to the overall decrease in June were lower exports of energy products, down 9.2% to $7.3 billion. Exports of crude oil and crude bitumen fell 7.4% to $4.6 billion, the fourth consecutive monthly decline. This was an atypical decrease for crude oil in June, a month that usually sees increases. Exports of other energy products, mostly coal, also fell in June, down 26.5% to $497 million. This follows three consecutive monthly increases of coal exports. Overall, prices in the section were down 6.1% and volumes decreased 3.3%.

Higher imports led by gold bullion

Sustained growth in total imports slowed in June, edging up 0.3% to $50.1 billion. Volumes rose 0.8% while prices fell 0.5%. Metal ores and non-metallic minerals and aircraft and other transportation equipment and parts contributed the most to the increase. Year over year, imports were up 10.4%.

Imports of metal ores and non-metallic minerals rose 39.1% to a record high $1.3 billion in June, mostly on higher volumes. Other metal ores and concentrates (+48.8%) were responsible for the increase, mainly on stronger imports of gold bullion from Japan and Egypt for refining purposes.

Imports of aircraft and other transportation equipment and parts rose 11.7% to a record high $2.3 billion in June. Higher imports of aircraft (+30.4%) and ships, locomotives, railway rolling stock, and rapid transit equipment (+71.2%) led the gain. The import of new airliners and railcars for the transportation of petroleum from the United States contributed the most to the growth.

Largely offsetting these gains were lower imports of motor vehicles and parts, down 3.2% to $9.4 billion, with widespread decreases throughout the section. The overall decrease follows five consecutive monthly increases.

Lower exports to the United States

Exports to the United States were down 4.5% to $34.5 billion in June, mostly on lower exports of crude oil. Imports from the United States fell 0.7% to $32.4 billion, also on lower imports of crude oil. As a result, Canada's trade surplus with the United States narrowed from $3.5 billion in May to $2.2 billion in June, the smallest surplus since June 2016. The Canadian dollar gained 1.7 cents US relative to the American dollar in June.

Exports to countries other than the United States were down 4.0%, mainly on lower exports of unwrought gold to the United Kingdom as well as lower exports of coal to Japan. Imports from countries other than the United States were up 2.1%, led by Brazil (bauxite) and South Korea (passenger cars). Consequently, Canada's trade deficit with countries other than the United States widened from $4.9 billion in May to $5.8 billion in June.

Widening of the quarterly trade deficit

On a quarterly basis, imports rose 5.6% from the first quarter to a record high $148.7 billion in the second quarter. Increases were observed in all commodity sections.

Exports increased 2.8% to a record high $142.7 billion in the second quarter. Metal and non-metallic mineral products and motor vehicles and parts led the quarterly increase.

As a result, Canada's merchandise trade deficit with the world widened from $2.0 billion in the first quarter to $5.9 billion in the second quarter.

Real trade balance in a deficit in June

In real (or volume) terms, imports were up 0.8% while exports fell 1.7% in June. Consequently, Canada's trade balance in real terms went from a $630 million surplus in May to a $423 million deficit in June.

Both imports and exports increased 2.9% in real terms in the second quarter. Canada's trade surplus in real terms therefore widened slightly from $851 million in the first quarter to $955 million in the second quarter.

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

Revisions to May exports and imports

Revisions reflected initial estimates being updated with or replaced by administrative and survey data as they became available, as well as amendments made for late documentation of high-value transactions. Exports in May, originally reported as $48.7 billion in last month's release, were revised to $48.6 billion in the current month's release. Imports, originally reported as $49.8 billion in last month's release, were revised to $50.0 billion.

Telling Canada's story in numbers; #ByTheNumbers

In celebration of the country's 150th birthday, Statistics Canada is presenting snapshots from our rich statistical history.

Klondike Gold Rush

In 1896, gold was discovered in the Yukon leading to the Klondike Gold Rush. In an effort to prevent the Americans from taking over the area, the autonomous Yukon Territory was established in 1898.

The share of 'The Mine' in total Canadian exports went from 9% in 1897 to 21% in 1901, with gold exports growing eightfold. Exports from Yukon reached $14 million in 1901, declining thereafter as gold was discovered in Alaska.

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

For more information on these and other macroeconomic concepts, see the Methodological Guide: Canadian System of Macroeconomic Accounts (Catalogue number13-607-X) and User Guide: Canadian System of Macroeconomic Accounts (Catalogue number13-606-G).

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 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 and then on a quarterly basis. The previous two years of customs-based data are revised annually and revisions 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 the 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 information on data 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 August 21. For more information, consult the document Real-time CANSIM tables.

New CANSIM table

Since June 19, 2017, Statistics Canada is releasing a new CANSIM table featuring Canada's international merchandise imports and exports with the United States. CANSIM table 228-0080 includes monthly merchandise trade values by US state and Canadian province at the Harmonized System section level dating back to January 1990.

Next release

Data on Canadian international merchandise trade for July will be released on September 6.


Customs based data are now available in the Canadian International Merchandise Trade Database (Catalogue number65F0013X).

The updated Canada and the World Statistics Hub – United Sates (Catalogue number13-609-X) is now available from the home page of the Statistics Canada website. This new product illustrates the nature and the extent of Canada's economic and financial relationship with the United States using interactive graphs and tables. This product provides an easy access to information on trade, investment, employment and travel, including merchandise trade by Canadian provinces and US states.

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 Benoît Carrière (613-415-5305;, International Accounts and Trade Division.

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