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Canadian international merchandise trade, April 2022

Released: 2022-06-07

Following two months of strong increases, growth in Canadian merchandise imports and exports slowed in April, with imports rising 1.9% and exports increasing 0.6%. As a result, Canada's merchandise trade surplus with the world narrowed from $2.3 billion in March to $1.5 billion in April.

Despite the rise in values, in real (or volume) terms, imports were down 0.4% in April, while exports fell 2.1%. The upward movements in nominal terms were therefore the result of higher prices.

Consult the "International trade monthly interactive dashboard" to explore the most recent results of Canada's international trade in an interactive format.

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

Import growth slows

After posting significant increases in February (+5.1%) and March (+7.8%), total imports posted a more modest increase in April (+1.9%), and import values totalled $62.8 billion.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Contribution to the monthly change in imports, by product, April 2022
Contribution to the monthly change in imports, by product, April 2022

Imports of consumer goods (+5.5%) contributed the most to the increase in April. Although gains were observed in most product subcategories, clothing, footwear and accessories (+24.2%) recorded the largest increase. Imports of this product group have been unstable since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. A number of factors are behind this instability, including production disruptions, problems related to marine transportation, and new strategies adopted by retail businesses to manage inventory. These changes have resulted in strong monthly variations on a seasonally adjusted basis over the past two years.

Chart 3  Chart 3: Canadian imports of clothing, footwear and accessories
Canadian imports of clothing, footwear and accessories

Imports of metal and non-metallic mineral products rose 10.5% in April to a record high of $5.8 billion. Imports of unwrought gold, silver and platinum group metals (+29.8%) contributed the most to the increase, mainly because of higher imports of silver from South Korea. Imports of basic and semi-finished iron and steel products (+9.2%) were also up in April.

Imports of energy products (+5.0%) increased in April on higher prices. The increase in imports of refined petroleum products (+52.6%) and natural gas (+57.0%) was partly offset by lower imports of crude oil (-20.9%). Imports of refined petroleum products rose largely due to higher imports of motor gasoline and diesel fuel from the United States, while imports of crude oil fell mainly due to lower imports from Nigeria and Saudi Arabia.

Chart 4  Chart 4: Canadian imports of refined petroleum products and crude oil
Canadian imports of refined petroleum products and crude oil

The decline in imports of basic and industrial chemical, plastic and rubber products (-5.4%) partly offset the increase in total imports in April. Imports of basic chemicals (-26.0%), which rose sharply in March, posted the largest decline in April, returning to levels similar to February. The increase in March was largely driven by an increase in imports of active pharmaceutical ingredients from Ireland.

Offsetting movements in exports

Total exports were up 0.6% to $64.3 billion in April, a fourth consecutive monthly gain. Since the beginning of 2022, the value of exports has risen 12.8%, but once adjusted for prices, exports were down 4.9% in real (or volume) terms over the same period.

Chart 5  Chart 5: Contribution to the monthly change in exports, by product, April 2022
Contribution to the monthly change in exports, by product, April 2022

Exports of consumer goods (+5.0%) rose the most in April, driven by higher exports of prepared and packaged seafood products (+52.4%). Although much of this increase is attributable to strong growth in crab prices, the quantities of crab exported in April also contributed to the increase. For the second consecutive year, to reduce the risk to the endangered North American right whales, the snow crab season began earlier in 2022, which led to a significant increase in exports for this category on a seasonally adjusted basis in April.

Exports of motor vehicles and parts rose 3.9% to $7.1 billion in April, the highest level since October 2020. After rising 8.5% in March, exports of passenger cars and light trucks were again the primary source of the growth in April (+5.3%). As observed in March, production of passenger cars and light trucks in Canada was less affected in April by disruptions due to the shortage of semiconductor chips. Exports of passenger cars and light trucks were up 36.3% in April 2022 compared with April 2021, a month marked by significant production stoppages.

Chart 6  Chart 6: Canadian exports of passenger cars and light trucks
Canadian exports of passenger cars and light trucks

After reaching unprecedented highs in the previous three months, exports of energy products were down 0.9% in April. Exports of crude oil fell 14.3%, mainly due to lower volumes. This decrease in volumes is largely the result of planned shutdowns for maintenance in April in the Alberta oil sands, particularly for upgrader facilities that produce synthetic crude oil. However, the combined increases in exports of natural gas (+48.4%) and coal (+62.8%) almost entirely offset the decline in crude oil exports in April. Natural gas exports rose primarily on a sharp increase in prices. Meanwhile, coal exports were up in large part due to higher volumes exported to India, Japan and Taiwan.

The aircraft and other transportation equipment and parts product section (-16.9%) saw the largest decline in April. Aircraft exports decreased 63.8% in April, mainly due to lower exports of business aircraft.

Lower trade surplus with the United States

Imports from the United States rose 4.4% in April, partly on higher imports of refined petroleum products. Exports to the United States were up 2.1%, a fourth consecutive monthly increase. As a result, Canada's trade surplus with the United States narrowed from a record high of $12.2 billion in March to $11.6 billion in April.

When the average exchange rates of March and April are compared, the Canadian dollar appreciated 0.2 US cents relative to the American dollar.

Following two large monthly increases, imports from China decline

Imports from countries other than the United States decreased 1.9% in April, due to a sharp drop in imports from China (-15.3%). This follows consecutive large increases in February and March. The drop in April coincided with the lockdown of Shanghai due to recent outbreaks of COVID-19 in that part of the country. Despite the monthly decline, imports from China were up 36.4% compared with January.

Exports to countries other than the United States fell 4.7% in April. Lower exports to the United Kingdom (gold), South Korea (copper ores), France (canola and aircraft) and Spain (pharmaceutical products) contributed the most to this decline.

Canada's merchandise trade deficit with countries other than the United States widened slightly in April to $10.1 billion from $9.9 billion in March.

Chart 7  Chart 7: International merchandise trade balance
International merchandise trade balance

Revisions to March merchandise export and import data

Imports in March, originally reported at $61.1 billion in the previous release, were revised to $61.7 billion in the current reference month's release. Exports in March, originally reported at $63.6 billion in the previous release, were revised to $63.9 billion in the current reference month's release.

Monthly trade in services

In April, monthly service exports rose 1.6% to $12.2 billion. Service imports increased 5.5% to $13.5 billion.

When international trade in goods and international trade in services were combined, exports increased 0.7% to $76.5 billion in April, while imports were up 2.5% to $76.3 billion. As a result, Canada's trade surplus with the world went from $1.5 billion in March to $184 million in April.

  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 (Catalogue number13-607-X) and the User Guide: Canadian System of Macroeconomic Accounts (Catalogue number13-606-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 June 20.

Next release

Data on Canadian international merchandise trade for May will be released on July 7.


The product "International trade monthly interactive dashboard" (Catalogue number71-607-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" (Catalogue number71-607-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 (Catalogue number71-607-X), a modern tool that provides trade data users with a number of enhancements.

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 charts 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.

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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