Canadian international merchandise trade, November 2021
Despite transportation disruptions caused by flooding and landslides in British Columbia in November, total exports increased 3.8%, while imports rose 2.4%. As a result, Canada's merchandise trade surplus widened from $2.3 billion in October to $3.1 billion in November.
Consult the "International trade monthly interactive dashboard" to explore the most recent results of Canada's international trade in an interactive format.
Impacts of British Columbia flooding on merchandise trade data in November
In mid-November, flooding and landslides caused severe damage to infrastructure in British Columbia, resulting in disruptions to the transportation of goods to and from key points of entry and exit on the West Coast.
While widespread increases were observed in November for exports (on a customs basis and not seasonally adjusted) from other Canadian provinces (+11.0%), goods exported from British Columbia fell 7.8%.
Exports of farm and fishing products, as well as coal, posted the largest decreases. Overall, exports to countries other than the United States, which depend heavily on Vancouver marine terminals, were down 4.0% in November.
However, declines in exports to countries other than the United States were more than offset by record-high exports to the United States. Exports to the United States rose 6.4% to $45.2 billion, in part on higher exports of pharmaceutical products, refined petroleum energy products and crude oil. It is possible that alternative shipping arrangements as a result of the situation in British Columbia supported Canadian exports to the United States in November, helping to mitigate the impact of the floods on trade activity.
For imports, the effects of these transportation disruptions were less apparent in merchandise trade data for November. While damage to transportation infrastructure limited the movement of goods further inland from coastal ports, operations to offload goods from container vessels were not heavily impacted, and import shipments cleared customs at a more typical rate. Imports from countries other than the United States were down 1.8% in November.
With transportation disruptions carrying into December and port congestion emerging as an issue, the situation remains fluid and could affect merchandise trade statistics in future months.
Exports of pharmaceutical products rise sharply
Following a record high in October, total exports rose 3.8% in November to $58.6 billion, the fifth increase in six months. Gains were observed in 8 of the 11 product sections. In real (or volume) terms, total exports rose 3.5%.
Exports of consumer goods increased 9.0% in November to $7.3 billion, mainly on higher exports of pharmaceutical products (+$610 million). In November, large shipments of COVID-19 medication came into Canada for packaging and labelling. Most of the medication was subsequently exported during the same month, resulting in a boost to both export and import statistics. Excluding exports of pharmaceutical products, total exports were up 2.8% in November.
Exports of basic and industrial chemical, plastic and rubber products increased 14.7% in November, with all subcategories posting gains. Exports of lubricants and other petroleum refinery products (+58.1%) increased the most, rising on higher exports of motor gasoline blending stock (a refinery output) to the United States.
Exports of energy products rose 2.8% in November, a seventh consecutive monthly increase. Crude oil exports (+5.6%) were up on higher prices, while exports of refined petroleum energy products (+61.2%) increased on higher refinery production. Offsetting these gains were lower exports of coal (-29.0%), which coincided with the flooding in British Columbia, and natural gas (-17.0%), which were down mostly on lower prices.
Exports of forestry products and building and packaging materials (+6.7%) also rose in November. Exports of lumber and other sawmill products (+8.6%) increased for a second consecutive month, following three months of declines, as both volumes and prices were up in November. Exports of asphalt (except natural) and asphalt products (+51.8%) also increased in November, mainly because of higher refinery output.
Atypical shipments of pharmaceutical products drive import increase in November
Following a record-high level of $54.2 billion in October, total imports rose a further 2.4% in November to $55.4 billion. These gains are largely attributable to atypical shipments of pharmaceutical products. Excluding imports of pharmaceutical products, total imports were up 0.1%. Overall, gains were observed in 6 of 11 product sections. In real (or volume) terms, total imports increased 0.8%.
Imports of consumer goods rose for the fourth consecutive month, up 5.2% in November. Imports of pharmaceutical products were responsible for the gain, rising sharply by $1.2 billion. November saw large imports of medication for packaging and labelling. As discussed with exports, a significant part of the packaged goods were subsequently exported in the same month. There was also a sharp increase in imports of "vaccines for human medicine other than for influenza," a category that includes vaccines for COVID-19. November marked the beginning of the campaign to vaccinate children aged 5 to 11 in Canada. Widespread decreases throughout the other product groupings in consumer goods partially offset the increase in imports of pharmaceutical products in November.
Following an 8.2% decrease in October, imports of metal and non-metallic mineral products rose 7.3% in November. Imports of iron and steel products (+24.9%) increased the most, reaching a record high of $1.6 billion, largely because of higher imports from South Korea.
Imports of basic and industrial chemical, plastic and rubber products (+7.3%) also contributed to the overall gain in November, reaching a record high of $4.7 billion. The increase was primarily the result of higher imports of lubricants and other petroleum refinery products (+34.2%), which rose mainly on higher imports of crude oil diluents from the United States.
Record-high exports and imports with the United States
Following a 7.5% increase in October, exports to the United States rose 6.4% in November to a record high $45.2 billion. Meanwhile, imports from the United States were up 4.9% to $35.4 billion, also a record. This followed a 7.7% gain in October. Both November increases were partly influenced by higher trade in pharmaceutical products. Canada's trade surplus with the United States widened from $8.8 billion in October to $9.8 billion in November, the largest trade surplus since January 2006.
When the average exchange rates of October and November are compared, the Canadian dollar lost 0.8 US cents relative to the American dollar.
Exports to countries other than the United States were down 4.0%, partly because of the transportation disruptions in British Columbia in November. Exports destined to Hong Kong (crude oil), China (coal, and farm and fishing products) and the Netherlands (various products) contributed the most to the decrease.
Imports from countries other than the United States decreased 1.8% in November. Lower imports from China (various products) were partially offset by higher imports from Japan (turbines and light trucks).
Canada's trade deficit with countries other than the United States widened from $6.5 billion in October to $6.7 billion in November.
Revisions to October merchandise export and import data
Imports in October, originally reported at $54.1 billion in the previous release, were revised to $54.2 billion in the release for the current reference month. Exports in October, originally reported at $56.2 billion in the previous release, were revised to $56.4 billion in the current month's release.
Monthly trade in services
In November, monthly service exports were up 2.9% to $11.7 billion. Service imports increased 0.3% to $11.9 billion.
When international trade in goods and international trade in services were combined, exports increased 3.7% to $70.3 billion in November, while imports were up 2.0% to $67.4 billion. As a result, Canada's trade surplus with the world for goods and services widened from $1.7 billion in October to $2.9 billion in November.
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. The seasonal adjustment parameters are reviewed and updated annually, and applied with the October reference month release.
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 January 17, 2022.
Data on Canadian international merchandise trade for December 2021 will be released on February 8, 2022.
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.
The Canadian International Merchandise Trade online database is no longer available. It has been replaced by the Canadian International Merchandise Trade Web Application (71-607-X), a modern tool which provides trade data users with a number of enhancements.
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.
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To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Benoît Carrière (email@example.com), International Accounts and Trade Division.