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Monthly trade in goods by exporter characteristics, November 2020

Released: 2021-01-27

Number of exporting enterprises (monthly)

19,399

November 2020

0.4% increase

(monthly change)

Despite several provinces beginning to implement new measures to contain the resurgence of COVID-19 in November, the number of Canadian businesses exporting goods continued to recover. The number of exporting enterprises in Canada grew by 0.4% in November to reach 19,399, the highest level since February 2020. This increase was led by manufacturing exporters, a sector generally less affected by government restrictions than the services sector.

Compared with the low in April, the total number of exporters in November had recovered by over 3,000 enterprises. Nonetheless, Canada still had nearly 1,000 fewer exporting enterprises (-4.8%) than were recorded in February, before the pandemic.

Among all exporters, enterprises with fewer than 50 employees (small enterprises) were most affected by economic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of small enterprises was down by 774 (-5.3%) from February, compared with a drop of 196 (-3.4%) among medium and large enterprises. However, in each month from May to September, small enterprises recovered faster than medium and large enterprises.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Percentage change (month over month) in number of exporting enterprises, by enterprise employment size, March to November 2020
Percentage change (month over month) in number of exporting enterprises, by enterprise employment size, March to November 2020

Change in number of exporters varies across provinces

An enterprise can have multiple establishments located in different provinces or territories and operating in various industries. November's increase in the number of exporting establishments (+139) was concentrated in Quebec (+119) and Ontario (+63). For Quebec, the increase was the largest since June and was led by the manufacturing sector. The other two provinces whose exporter numbers rose were Saskatchewan and Alberta, with November being Alberta's seventh consecutive month of growth.

The overall increase in exporters was attenuated by fewer exporters from British Columbia (-27) and the Atlantic region (-28), with that region's largest decline observed in New Brunswick.

Nonetheless, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador, along with Manitoba, were still above their pre-pandemic (February) level of exporters.

More exporters to United States, fewer to China and Europe

On a geographical basis, much of November's increase in exporters was from more enterprises selling to the United States, up by 0.8% to 15,991. Conversely, the number of enterprises exporting to China was down 3.8%, its largest decrease since February.

In the context of several major European trading partners implementing a second round of lockdowns during the month of November, the number of enterprises exporting to the United Kingdom (-6.1%), France (-3.3%), Italy (-2.2%) and Germany (-2.2%) declined. However, the number of exporters to Spain (+6.8%) and the Netherlands (+3.2%) was up. Both destinations saw increases in the number of exporters from Ontario. The number of exporters to the Netherlands was above its level in February, before the pandemic (+6.1%). The Netherlands is an entry point for many Canadian goods, which may ultimately reach other European destinations.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Change (month over month) in number of exporting enterprises, by major trading partner, October to November 2020
Change (month over month) in number of exporting enterprises, by major trading partner, October to November 2020

More firms in the professional, scientific and technical services sector export goods to Europe year over year

In general, the effects of the pandemic were more pronounced for establishments in the services-producing sector. Firms in services-producing industries were particularly hard hit in exporting to the United States. The number of establishments in the services sector that exported to the United States was down 15.5% from November 2019, with the largest declines in wholesale trade; retail trade; and professional, scientific and technical services.

Since April, the number of firms exporting to all major trading partner destinations in Europe has recovered at a faster rate than the number of firms exporting to the United States, with a strong resumption of export activity within the services sector, particularly for the United Kingdom. While some key industries within the services sector (wholesale trade and retail trade) posted year-over-year declines, the professional, scientific and technical services sector recorded an increase in the number of establishments exporting to the United Kingdom (+8.4%) and the European Union (+2.2%) from November 2019 to November 2020.

Chart 3  Chart 3: Percentage change (year over year) in number of establishments exporting to selected regions, by industry, November 2019 to November 2020
Percentage change (year over year) in number of establishments exporting to selected regions, by industry, November 2019 to November 2020

  Note to readers

The monthly trade in goods by exporter characteristics program will be discontinued following the release of reference month December 2020.

Seasonal adjustment

With this release, the monthly trade in goods by exporter characteristics program incorporates data that have been seasonally adjusted to track the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Canadian exporters on a month-to-month basis. Seasonal adjustment techniques that remove the effect of seasonal and calendar influences from the original data can sharpen the extent to which a time series can be used to evaluate meaningful changes in economic conditions over time. Seasonally adjusted data are available at aggregated levels such as the number of exporters by province, by major country of destination, by enterprise employment size, etc. For more detailed information such as the number of exporters at the industry level by province, data are available on an unadjusted basis only. The analysis in this text, unless stated otherwise, is conducted using seasonally adjusted data. For more information on seasonal adjustment, consult Seasonally adjusted data – Frequently asked questions.

The term major trading partners refers to Belgium, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Russia, the United States, Brazil, Japan, China and India. These countries represent a subset of the countries defined as Canada's principal trading partners as per the Canadian International Merchandise Trade program and the Balance of International Payments program and are among those that have been the most impacted by COVID-19 in terms of confirmed cases.

Methodology

The monthly trade in goods by exporter characteristics release is a special product that is being published specifically to provide Canadians with timely information on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on Canadian exporters.

Seasonally adjusted data are available from January 2019 to November 2020 at aggregated levels only. For more detailed levels, data are available from January 2019 to November 2020 on a customs basis and unadjusted for seasonal variation.

Monthly export data for reference year 2019 are derived from the annual production database, while data for January to November 2020 are newly developed based on a similar linkage methodology used for the annual Trade by Exporter Characteristics – Goods (TEC–Goods) program. Prior to January 2020, data on exports to non-US destinations were collected by Statistics Canada. In January 2020, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) began collecting non-US export data and transmitting them to Statistics Canada on a daily basis. Exporters were gradually transitioned to the CBSA collection system, and collection by Statistics Canada was phased out completely later in 2020. Data collection remains unchanged for exports to the United States; the US Census Bureau collects and transmits the data to Statistics Canada each month under the terms of the Canada–US data exchange. Overall, a very similar linkage methodology is applied to this 23-month monthly time series as to the annual data, ensuring that consistency between monthly and annual data is maintained.

For each month from January 2019 to November 2020, the total number of identified exporters accounted for 99% of the total domestic export value. The number of exporters corresponds to the number of exporters identified in the Business Register (2020). The total value of exports refers to all transactions that can be linked from the monthly domestic exports (customs basis) database.

In this release, data disseminated at the provincial level are conceptually different from customs-based merchandise export data. Provincial data for the TEC–Goods program are based on the province where the exporters are located. Goods can be shipped to other provinces for final consumption or can be shipped from other provinces when leaving Canada. Customs-based merchandise exports are based on the province of origin, which is the province in which the goods are grown, produced, extracted or manufactured. Monthly domestic export (customs basis) data can be obtained from Canadian International Merchandise Trade (Customs Basis).

Data availability

Unadjusted and seasonally adjusted data on monthly trade in goods by exporter characteristics are available upon request.

Contact information

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; STATCAN.infostats-infostats.STATCAN@canada.ca).

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Angela Yuan-Wu (613-240-2871; angela.yuanwu@canada.ca) or Andreas Loken (613-402-2436; andreas.loken@canada.ca), International Accounts and Trade Division.

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