Canadian international merchandise trade, July 2021
In July, Canada's merchandise imports rose 4.2% and exports increased 0.6%. As a result, Canada's merchandise trade surplus narrowed from $2.6 billion in June to $778 million in July.
In real (or volume) terms, total imports rose 1.9% in July, while exports edged down 0.3%. Higher prices therefore had a significant impact on import and export values in July. Exports prices increased sharply since the end of last year, up 16.7% in July compared with December 2020.
Consult the "International trade monthly interactive dashboard" to explore the most recent results of Canada's international trade in an interactive format.
Record high in imports
Total imports increased 4.2% in July to reach a record high of $53.0 billion. Imports were up in 9 of 11 product sections.
Motor vehicles and parts (+21.1%) accounted for more than two-thirds of the increase in total imports in July, a month that is normally marked by temporary closures in North American automotive assembly plants for summer holidays. Due to a slowdown in production caused by supply issues, including, among others, the recent shortage of microchips, the effects of these seasonal stoppages in July were less severe this year. As a result, a substantial increase in imports of passenger cars and light trucks (+28.0%), as well as of motor vehicle engines and motor vehicle parts (+19.3%), was recorded on a seasonally adjusted basis.
Imports of electronic and electrical equipment and parts (+8.5%) also contributed to the increase in July. Imports of communication, and audio and video equipment—a category largely composed of cellphones—led the increase, rising 10.9% following two consecutive monthly declines. In addition, after decreasing each month from February to June, imports of computers and computer peripherals rose 10.4% in July, mainly on higher imports of laptops.
The decrease in imports of consumer goods (-5.3%) partially offset these increases in July. Imports of pharmaceutical products (-15.8%) contributed the most to this decline, partly because of lower imports of "vaccines for human medicine other than for influenza." Despite the monthly decrease, imports in this category, which include COVID-19 vaccines, remained nearly 10 times higher than in July 2020. A decrease in the imports of medicines also contributed to the decline in imports of pharmaceutical products in July.
Decrease in lumber exports limits growth in total exports
After a sharp increase of 7.5% in June, total exports rose 0.6% in July to $53.7 billion, another record high. In July, increases in a number of different product sections were partially offset by a sharp decline in lumber exports. Excluding exports of lumber and other sawmill products, total exports were up 2.0%.
Exports of motor vehicles and parts (+6.4%) posted the largest increase in July. As with imports, the effects of temporary summer stoppages at assembly plants in Canada were less pronounced this year compared with the years preceding the pandemic. This was because of lower production in recent months related to part supply issues, and resulted in an increase in exports of passenger cars and light trucks (+8.4%) on a seasonally adjusted basis.
The rise in exports of energy products (+1.9%) also contributed to the growth in July. Exports of crude oil (+2.1%) and natural gas (+9.9%) posted the largest increases, mainly because of higher prices.
Several other product sections contributed to the growth in total exports in July. Increases in exports of more than $100 million were reported for each of the following product sections: electronic and electrical equipment and parts (+7.9%); aircraft and other transportation equipment and parts (+8.3%); basic and industrial chemical, plastic and rubber products (+4.5%); industrial machinery, equipment and parts (+4.5%); and consumer goods (+2.0%).
The increases observed in these other product sections were almost entirely offset by the decrease in exports of forestry products and building and packaging materials (-12.7%). The decrease in exports of lumber and other sawmill products (-23.6%) drove the decline, the result of a fall in prices. As explained in the most recent release on the Industrial product and raw materials price indexes, lower demand contributed in part to a decrease in lumber prices in July.
Record level of trade activity with the United States
Imports from the United States increased 8.4% in July to a record high of $34.1 billion. Exports to the United States rose 3.6% to $40.8 billion, which was also a record high. Both increases were mainly attributable to growth in the trade of motor vehicles and parts. Canada's trade surplus with the United States narrowed from $7.9 billion in June to $6.7 billion in July.
This increase in trade activity with the United States occurred as the Canadian dollar lost 2.0 US cents when comparing the average exchange rates of June and July. Because a significant portion of trade transactions is conducted in US dollars, a decrease in the exchange rate results in relatively higher trade values when converted to Canadian dollars.
Decrease in trade activity with countries other than the United States
Imports from countries other than the United States decreased 2.6% in July, down for the second consecutive month. Imports from China (various products), Mexico (various products) and Japan (passenger cars and light trucks) posted the largest declines.
Exports to countries other than the United States were down 7.6% in July, with sharp decreases in exports to China (copper ore, canola and iron ore) and Hong Kong (gold).
Canada's trade deficit with countries other than the United States widened from $5.3 billion in June to $5.9 billion in July.
Revisions to June merchandise export and import data
Imports in June, originally reported at $50.5 billion in the previous release, were revised to $50.9 billion in the release for the current reference month. Exports in June, originally reported at $53.8 billion in the previous release, were revised to $53.4 billion in the current month's release.
Monthly trade in services
In July, monthly service exports were up 1.2% to $9.7 billion. Service imports increased 3.7% to $10.0 billion.
When international trade in goods and international trade in services were combined, exports rose 0.7% to $63.5 billion in July, while imports increased 4.1% to $63.0 billion. As a result, Canada's trade surplus with the world for goods and services narrowed from $2.5 billion in June to $477 million in July.
Upcoming release of the new Canadian International Merchandise Trade Web Application
In the fall of 2021, Statistics Canada will launch the Canadian International Merchandise Trade (CIMT) Web Application, which will replace the existing online CIMT database. This modernized tool will provide users with a number of enhancements, including access to the full 8-digit (exports) and 10-digit (imports) Harmonized System product categories, as well as insights on CIMT in a more user-friendly, efficient and visually appealing manner. Watch this video to learn more about the added data and features.
Merchandise trade: Canada's 10 principal trading partners – Balance-of-payments basis, seasonally adjusted, current dollars
Merchandise trade: North American Product Classification System – Balance-of-payments basis, seasonally adjusted, current dollars
Canada's international trade in goods and services – Balance-of-payments basis, seasonally adjusted, current dollars
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 adjusting 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-based data 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 () and the User Guide: Canadian System of Macroeconomic Accounts ( 13-607-X). 13-606-G
The 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). Movements within aggregate Paasche prices can be influenced by changes in the share of values traded for specific goods, with sudden shifts in trading patterns—as observed currently with the COVID-19 pandemic—sometimes resulting in large movements in Paasche price indexes. Volumes, or constant dollars, are calculated using the Laspeyres formula (2012=100), unless otherwise stated.
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-based and the BOP-based data.
The previous year's customs-based data are revised with the release of data for 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, the replacement of estimates produced for the energy section with actual figures, changes in merchandise classification based on more current information, and changes to seasonal adjustment factors.
For information on data revisions for exports of energy products, see Methodology for Exports of Energy Products within the International Merchandise Trade Program.
Revised data are available in the appropriate tables.
Real-time data table
The real-time data table 12-10-0120-01 will be updated on September 20, 2021.
Data on Canadian international merchandise trade for August will be released on October 5, 2021.
The product "International trade monthly interactive dashboard" (71-607-X) is now available. This new interactive dashboard is a comprehensive analytical tool that presents monthly changes in Canada's international merchandise trade data on a balance-of-payments basis, fully supporting the information presented every month in the Daily release.
The product "The International Trade Explorer" (71-607-X) is now available online.
Customs-based data are now available in the Canadian International Merchandise Trade Database (65F0013X).
The updated "Canada and the World Statistics Hub" (13-609-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. It 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 and Spain.
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 Benoît Carrière (613-951-4636; STATCAN.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.STATCAN@canada.ca), International Accounts and Trade Division.