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Canada's balance of international payments, first quarter 2022

Released: 2022-05-30

Current account balance

$5.0 billion

First quarter 2022

Canada's current account balance (on a seasonal adjusted basis) recorded a $5.0 billion surplus in the first quarter of 2022 after posting a small deficit of $137 million in the previous quarter. This surplus, the highest in almost 14 years, was led by the largest goods surplus since the financial crisis of 2008.

In the financial account (unadjusted for seasonal variation), portfolio investment generated an unprecedented inflow of funds of $119.7 billion in the first quarter. Strong repatriation of funds from the sales of foreign shares, combined with record foreign acquisitions of Canadian bonds, contributed the most to this inflow of funds. Cross-border transactions in loans and in currency and deposits more than offset the portfolio investment activity.

Meanwhile, direct investment led to a small inflow of funds. Direct investment in Canada reached its highest level in one year. At the same time, direct investment abroad slowed on lower merger and acquisition transactions.

Cross-border activity in the first quarter occurred against the backdrop of rising interest rates and higher commodity prices. A higher volume of cross-border trading in securities was observed in the quarter while global capital markets showed volatility. The Canadian dollar appreciated slightly against most major foreign currencies.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Current account balances
Current account balances

Current account

Highest trade in goods and services surplus since 2008

The trade in goods and services balance posted a $6.4 billion surplus in the first quarter, a level not reached since 2008. The trade in goods surplus reached $8.6 billion, also the highest level since 2008.

Exports of goods increased by $9.1 billion to $180.7 billion in the first quarter. The largest contributor was energy products, up $6.5 billion on higher prices while volumes were down. Forestry products and building and packaging materials also contributed to the increase with a gain of $1.6 billion on higher prices.

Meanwhile, imports of goods rose by $2.9 billion to $172.1 billion. Imports of basic and industrial chemical, plastic and rubber products advanced by $1.2 billion on stronger volumes. Imports of industrial machinery, equipment and parts increased by $1.0 billion, up for a seventh consecutive quarter. Partially offsetting these gains was a decline of $1.4 billion in the import of motor vehicles and parts on lower imports of passenger cars and light trucks.

On a geographical basis, the goods surplus with the United States was up by $8.4 billion to reach $33.1 billion in the first quarter, led by higher exports. The goods deficit with countries other than the United States increased by $2.2 billion. The trade deficit with China rose by $2.9 billion as imports reached a record of $17.2 billion in the quarter.

The trade in services deficit expanded by $1.1 billion to $2.2 billion in the first quarter. The travel services surplus was down $0.5 billion in the quarter as Canadians increased their spending abroad for a third consecutive quarter. The transport services deficit increased by $0.6 billion, mostly on higher imports of air transport services related to the movements of passengers. The services balance has now been in a deficit position for four quarters in a row, after posting unusual surplus because of weak travel expenses in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Goods balances by geographic area
Goods balances by geographic area

Higher investment income surplus

The investment income surplus widened by $0.5 billion to $1.2 billion in the first quarter. After recording their highest levels during the previous quarter, profits earned by foreign direct investors on their assets in Canada and those earned by Canadian direct investors on their assets abroad were down in the first quarter.

Financial account

Strong levels of cross-border portfolio investment

The first quarter was marked by high volumes of cross-border trading in both Canadian and foreign securities, notably in the month of March. Overall, Canadian investors sold $45.3 billion of foreign securities in the first quarter, a divestment level last seen in the first quarter of 2020, at the onset of the pandemic. Canadian investors reduced their exposures to equity securities by a record $55.7 billion, mostly US shares. The overall divestment was moderated by an $8.8 billion investment in foreign bonds.

Meanwhile, foreign investors increased their holdings of Canadian securities by $74.5 billion. While investments in Canadian equity securities slowed to $12.4 billion, acquisitions of Canadian bonds reached an unprecedented $71.3 billion in the quarter. The investment mainly targeted new bonds denominated in foreign currencies. Gross new issues abroad of Canadian bonds were particularly strong, reaching a record $108.5 billion and were almost completely dominated by issuances of Canadian private corporations, mainly chartered banks.

Chart 3  Chart 3: Foreign portfolio investment
Foreign portfolio investment

Direct investment in Canada slightly exceeds direct investment abroad

Direct investment in Canada totalled $20.1 billion in the first quarter, its highest level in one year. Earnings reinvested in Canadian affiliates by their foreign parents ($10.1 billion) and merger and acquisition transactions ($8.6 billion) were the largest contributors. The manufacturing sector ($7.2 billion) and the energy and mining sector ($5.5 billion), where the main recipients of the foreign direct investment.

Canadian direct investment abroad slowed to $19.7 billion in the first quarter, down from a strong $66.7 billion in the previous quarter. While mergers and acquisitions activity was relatively modest ($2.5 billion), earnings reinvested by Canadian parents in their foreign affiliates amounted to $15.3 billion. On a sector basis, the largest investment ($6.8 billion) was in affiliates of the finance and insurance industry.

Chart 4  Chart 4: Foreign direct investment
Foreign direct investment

  Note to readers


The balance of international payments covers all economic transactions between Canadian residents and non-residents in three accounts: the current account, the capital account and the financial account.

The current account covers transactions in goods, services, compensation of employees, investment income and secondary income (current transfers).

The current account data in this release are seasonally adjusted. For information on seasonal adjustment, see Seasonally adjusted data—Frequently asked questions.

The capital account covers capital transfers and transactions in non-produced, non-financial assets.

The financial account covers transactions in financial assets and liabilities.

In principle, a net lending (+) or net borrowing (-) derived from the sum of the current and capital accounts corresponds to a net lending (+) or net borrowing (-) derived from the financial account. In practice, as data are compiled from multiple sources, this is rarely the case and gives rise to measurement error. The discrepancy (net errors and omissions) is the unobserved net inflow or outflow.

Foreign direct investment is presented on an asset-liability principle basis (that is, gross basis) in the financial account. Foreign direct investment can also be presented on a directional principle basis (that is, net basis), as shown in supplementary foreign direct investment tables 36-10-0025-01, 36-10-0026-01, 36-10-0473-01 and 36-10-0656-01. The difference between the two foreign direct investment conceptual presentations resides in the classification of reverse investment such as (1) Canadian affiliates' claims on foreign parents and (2) Canadian parents' liabilities to foreign affiliates. Under the asset-liability presentation, (1) is classified as an asset and included in direct investment assets, also referred to as direct investment abroad in this text, and (2) is classified as a liability and included in direct investment liability, also referred to as direct investment in Canada in this text.

For more information on the balance of payments, consult "Chapter 8. International Accounts," in the User Guide: Canadian System of Macroeconomic Accounts, available on Statistics Canada's website. The chapter also presents the most recent balance of payments statistics.

New table on trade in services

With this release, the new table 12-10-0157-01 on international trade in services by principal trading partners is now available. This new table replaces table 36-10-0024-01 and provides seasonally adjusted values as well as raw values on quarterly trade in services by principal trading partners.

Real-time table

Real-time table 36-10-0042-01 will be updated on June 6, 2022. For more information, see Real-time tables.

Next release

Balance of international payments data for the second quarter of 2022 will be released on August 30, 2022.


The product Canada's international trade and investment country fact sheet (Catalogue number71-607-X) is available online. This product provides easy and centralized access to Canada's international trade and investment statistics, on a country-by-country basis. It contains annual information for nearly 250 trading partners in summary form, including charts, tables and a short analysis that can also be exported in PDF format.

The product Canada and the World Statistics Hub (Catalogue number13-609-X) is 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 and Japan.

The Economic accounts statistics and International trade statistics portals are available from the Subjects module of the Statistics Canada website.

The product Methodology for Exports of Energy Products within the International Merchandise Trade Program, which is part of Latest Developments in the Canadian Economic Accounts (Catalogue number13-605-X), is available.

The Methodological Guide: Canadian System of Macroeconomic Accounts (Catalogue number13-607-X) is available.

The User Guide: Canadian System of Macroeconomic Accounts (Catalogue number13-606-G) is also available.

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; or Media Relations (

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