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Canadian international merchandise trade, October 2019

Released: 2019-12-05

Canada's exports rose 0.8% in October, while imports increased 0.5% mainly on higher imports of energy products. As a result, Canada's merchandise trade deficit with the world narrowed slightly from $1.2 billion in September to $1.1 billion in October.

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

Higher exports of art, energy and gold

Following a 1.7% decrease in September, total exports were up 0.8% in October. Increases were observed in 6 of 11 product sections, and non-energy exports edged up 0.2%. Compared with the same period in 2018, total exports were up 1.6% in the first 10 months of 2019. In real (or volume) terms, exports increased 0.7% in October.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Contributions to the monthly change in exports, by product, October 2019
Contributions to the monthly change in exports, by product, October 2019

Exports of consumer goods rose 5.5% in October, mainly on higher exports of miscellaneous goods and supplies. This category, which includes a wide variety of products, posted a significant increase of $532 million in October as a result of higher exports of artwork such as paintings and sculptures. These fine art pieces were destined to an art fair in New York that began at the end of October. Items that do not sell could be brought back and subsequently included in Canada's import statistics. Total exports excluding miscellaneous goods and supplies were down 0.3%.

Exports of energy products (+3.4%) also rose in October, mostly on higher exports of crude oil (+2.7%) and refined petroleum products (+15.2%). After falling in September on lower volumes, crude oil exports rebounded in October as the effect of higher prices more than compensated for a decrease in volumes. Exports of refined petroleum products were up in October mainly on higher exports of fuel oils and diesel to the United States.

Exports of metal and non-metallic mineral products increased 5.7%, as a result of higher exports of gold. Following a decrease of 5.0% in September, exports of gold increased 16.8% in October, owing to higher exports of refined gold to the United States. In the first 10 months of 2019, exports of gold were up 21.3% compared with the same period in 2018, with higher prices playing a significant role in the increase.

Partially offsetting the overall gain, exports of farm and fishing products (-12.6%) posted the largest decline in October, mostly on lower shipments of other crop products (mainly soybeans) to China. Following a strong start in the first of half of 2019, exports of other crop products have decreased significantly in the past two months, reaching their lowest level since 2012. In 2018, more than one-third of these exports were destined to China; this ratio has fallen to less than 11% so far in 2019.

Chart 3  Chart 3: Canadian exports of other crop products
Canadian exports of other crop products

Increased imports of energy products

Total imports rose 0.5% to $51.0 billion in October, despite decreases in 7 of 11 product sections. Total imports were up 1.5% in the first 10 months of the year compared with the same period in 2018. In real (or volume) terms, imports increased 0.8% in October.

Chart 4  Chart 4: Contributions to the monthly change in imports, by product, October 2019
Contributions to the monthly change in imports, by product, October 2019

Imports of energy products were up 8.9% in October, mainly on higher imports of crude oil and crude bitumen (+8.5%), which increased largely due to higher prices. This was the eighth monthly increase for imports of crude oil in 2019. Imports of natural gas (+46.2%) and refined petroleum products (+6.8%) also contributed to the increase in energy product imports in October.

Imports of motor vehicles and parts fell 3.3% in October to $9.3 billion. This was the fifth consecutive monthly decrease for this product section and the lowest level observed in 2019. Imports of passenger cars and light trucks (-4.7%) were responsible for most of the decline, with labour disruptions affecting a number of North American auto assembly plants in September and October. Exports of motor vehicle engines and parts (-12.9%) were also impacted by these events in October.

Chart 5  Chart 5: Imports of passenger cars and light trucks, and exports of motor vehicle engines and parts
Imports of passenger cars and light trucks, and exports of motor vehicle engines and parts

Another strong surplus with the United States

Imports from the United States were down 1.7% in October, while exports were up 1.0%. As a result, Canada's trade surplus with the United States widened from $4.6 billion in September to $5.5 billion in October, the strongest surplus since the financial crisis of 2008. This is the eighth consecutive month that Canada's surplus with the United States was above $4 billion, also a first since 2008.

When the average exchange rates of September and October are compared, the Canadian dollar gained 0.3 US cents relative to the American dollar.

Imports from countries other than the United States rose 4.4% in October. Higher imports from Belgium (pharmaceutical products), Switzerland (pharmaceutical products) and Mexico (light trucks) were partially offset by lower imports from China (various products).

Exports to countries other than the United States edged up 0.1% in October. Higher exports to Norway (nickel), India (copper), Hong Kong (gold) and Peru (wheat) were essentially offset by lower exports to China (soybeans and canola). Total exports to non-US countries since the beginning of 2019 decreased 0.5% compared with the same period in 2018.

As a result, Canada's trade deficit with countries other than the United States increased from $5.8 billion in September to $6.6 billion in October.

Chart 6  Chart 6: International merchandise trade balance
International merchandise trade balance

Exports to China decrease sharply in October

Canada's exports to China decreased 19.3% in October, settling at $1.6 billion. This constitutes the strongest decrease since 2012, and the lowest level in more than five years.

After reaching highs in late 2018, in part due to higher shipments of canola and soybeans, exports to China have fallen 12.3% in the first 10 months of 2019 compared with the same period in 2018. Lower exports of canola were responsible for more than half of the decline. Exports of pulp and paper (the most exported Canadian product to China by value) also fell during that time.

Chart 7  Chart 7: Canada's exports to China
Canada's exports to China

Revisions to September merchandise exports and imports

Revisions reflect initial estimates being updated with or replaced by administrative and survey data as they become available, as well as amendments made for late documentation of high-value transactions. Exports in September, originally reported as $49.8 billion in the previous release, were revised to $49.5 billion. Imports in September, originally reported as $50.8 billion in the previous release, were essentially unchanged in the current month's release.

Monthly trade in services

Beginning with this month's release, Statistics Canada is publishing monthly estimates on trade in services at the same time as the monthly Canadian international merchandise trade data. New data tables (International trade in services) and a Daily release ("Canadian international trade in services") are now available.

Monthly exports of services were up 1.3% in October to reach $11.4 billion. Imports of services declined 0.5% to $12.6 billion.

Combining international trade in goods and services, exports in October rose 0.9% to $61.3 billion and imports edged up 0.3% to $63.6 billion. As a result, Canada's trade deficit with the world for goods and services combined was $2.3 billion in October.



  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 the User Guide: Canadian System of Macroeconomic Accounts (Catalogue number13-606-G).

Data in this release are on a BOP basis and are seasonally adjusted. Unless otherwise stated, values are expressed in nominal terms, or current dollars. References to prices are based on aggregate Paasche (current-weighted) price indexes (2012=100). Volumes, or constant dollars, are calculated using the Laspeyres formula (2012=100).

For information on seasonal adjustment, see "Seasonally adjusted data – Frequently asked questions."

Revisions

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-based data are revised with the release of the January and February reference months, and thereafter 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 data for 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 tables.

Real-time data table

Real-time table 12-10-0120-01 will be updated on December 16.

Next release

Data on Canadian international merchandise trade for November 2019 will be released on January 7, 2020.

Products

The product "International Trade Explorer" (Catalogue number71-607-X) is now available online. This product provides a new way of looking at Canada's trade relations. Leveraging the analytical richness of customs data, this product offers four different visualization tools: an interactive world map, a tree map, a stacked bar chart and a visualization tool for trade by province.

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

The updated Canada and the World Statistics Hub (Catalogue number13-609-X) is now available online. This product illustrates the nature and extent of Canada's economic and financial relationship with the world using interactive graphs and tables. This product provides easy access to information on trade, investment, employment and travel between Canada and a number of countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Mexico, China, Japan, Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and many others.

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; STATCAN.infostats-infostats.STATCAN@canada.ca) or Media Relations (613-951-4636; STATCAN.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.STATCAN@canada.ca).

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