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Canadian international merchandise trade, May 2022

Released: 2022-07-07

In May, Canada's merchandise exports rose 4.1% compared with April, a fifth consecutive monthly increase. Meanwhile, imports decreased 0.7%. As a result, Canada's merchandise trade surplus with the world widened from $2.2 billion in April to $5.3 billion in May, the largest trade surplus since August 2008.

The contribution of prices to monthly movements was once again noteworthy in the merchandise trade results for May. As seen in previous months, variations in real (or volume) terms were significantly different from those in nominal terms observed in May. Export volumes increased 1.7%, while import volumes decreased 1.4% compared with April.

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

Rise in exports led by crude oil and aircraft

Total exports rose 4.1% in May to $68.4 billion. This was the fifth consecutive monthly increase and the 10th gain over the past 12 months. Overall, growth was observed in 8 of the 11 product sections in May. Since the beginning of 2022, the value of exports has risen by more than 20%, but, once adjusted for prices, exports were down 2.3% in real (or volume) terms.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Contribution to the monthly change in exports, by product, May 2022
Contribution to the monthly change in exports, by product, May 2022

In May, exports of energy products increased 5.7% to $20.4 billion, representing 29.8% of total exports, an all-time high. Exports of crude oil and bitumen (+9.2%) rose the most in May, the result of higher prices. As explained in the most recent release on the Industrial Product Price Index, uncertainty about supply, in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, is behind the recent rise in crude oil prices. Export prices for crude oil have almost doubled since May 2021. Despite the importance of energy products to the gain in total exports, non-energy exports were up 3.5% in May 2022.

Chart 3  Chart 3: Canadian exports of crude oil and bitumen
Canadian exports of crude oil and bitumen

In May, exports of aircraft and other transportation equipment and parts rose 34.2% compared with April. Following a decrease of $489 million in April, exports of aircraft (+$524 million) were the main contributor to the monthly gain in the product section. The increase in exports of aircraft in May was mainly attributable to higher exports of business jets to the United States.

Exports of metal ores and non-metallic minerals rose 17.2% in May to reach a record-high $3.1 billion. Exports of potash (+34.9%) led the increase, partly because of a large gain in exports to Brazil. Russia is the largest exporter of fertilizers in the world, and amid the conflict in Ukraine, demand for fertilizer products exported by other countries has risen, leading to record-high exports of Canadian potash. Exports of copper ores and concentrates (+74.4%) also increased in May, mainly on higher exports to South Korea.

Chart 4  Chart 4: Canadian exports of potash
Canadian exports of potash

Imports of consumer goods post the largest decrease

Following three consecutive monthly increases, total imports decreased 0.7% in May to $63.1 billion. Declines were observed in 6 of the 11 product sections.

Chart 5  Chart 5: Contribution to the monthly change in imports, by product, May 2022
Contribution to the monthly change in imports, by product, May 2022

After an increase of 5.7% in April, imports of consumer goods fell 4.7% in May. As was the case in recent months, the clothing, footwear and accessories (-11.3%) product group was the largest contributor to the monthly decrease. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, several factors, including supply chain issues, have led Canadian retailers to adjust their inventory management strategies and, therefore, their import practices. This has altered the usual seasonal pattern for imports in this category and resulted in large monthly variations on a seasonally adjusted basis. Imports of clothing, footwear and accessories are up 33.9% since the beginning of 2022, despite the decline observed in May. Imports of pharmaceutical and medicinal products (-5.9%) also contributed to the May decline in consumer goods.

Chart 6  Chart 6: Canadian imports of clothing, footwear and accessories on a seasonally adjusted and unadjusted basis
Canadian imports of clothing, footwear and accessories on a seasonally adjusted and unadjusted basis

In May, imports of aircraft and other transportation equipment and parts were down 22.7% compared with April. Following three consecutive monthly increases, imports of aircraft (-68.4%) decreased, contributing the most to the decrease in the product section. In May, there were lower imports of commercial airliners from the United States.

The increase in imports of basic and industrial chemical, plastic and rubber products (+8.6%) partly offset the decrease in total imports in May. Imports of basic chemicals (+31.2%), which declined sharply in April, posted the largest gain. This is the third large increase in four months for imports of these products. Recent movements in this product category have been largely driven by imports of pharmaceutical ingredients from Ireland.

Trade surplus with the United States widens for fifth consecutive month

Exports to the United States increased by 2.4% in May, largely because of higher exports of crude oil. Meanwhile, imports from the United States edged up 0.3%. As a result, Canada's trade surplus with the United States widened from $12.9 billion in April to $14.0 billion in May, another record high.

When the average exchange rates of April and May are compared, the Canadian dollar lost 1.4 US cents relative to the American dollar.

Exports to countries other than the United States reach a record high

In May, exports to countries other than the United States were up 10.6% compared with April, reaching a record-high $15.5 billion. Exports to the United Kingdom (+74.2%) posted the largest gain, led by increased exports of crude oil and gold.

Imports from countries other than the United States were down 2.3% in May. Imports from China were again largely behind the downward movement, amid lockdowns in some parts of the country because of COVID-19 outbreaks. There were also lower imports from Mexico and Japan, both down on lower imports of passenger cars and light trucks.

Following the record $10.7 billion deficit observed in April, the merchandise trade deficit with countries other than the United States narrowed to $8.6 billion in May.

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

Revisions to April merchandise export and import data

Imports in April, originally reported at $62.8 billion in the previous release, were revised to $63.5 billion in the release for the current reference month. Exports in April, originally reported at $64.3 billion in the previous release, were revised to $65.7 billion, mainly because estimates for crude oil exports were replaced with actual data. These estimates can be subject to larger revisions during times of high volatility in energy prices.

Monthly trade in services

In May, monthly service exports rose 1.7% to $12.4 billion. Meanwhile, service imports increased 0.5% to $13.5 billion.

When international trade in goods and international trade in services were combined, exports increased 3.8% to $80.8 billion in May, while imports were down 0.5% to $76.7 billion. As a result, Canada's trade surplus with the world went from $900 million in April to $4.2 billion in May.




  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.

Revisions

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 July 18.

Next release

Data on Canadian international merchandise trade for June will be released on August 4.

Products

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; infostats@statcan.gc.ca) or Media Relations (statcan.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.statcan@statcan.gc.ca).

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