Canadian international merchandise trade, July 2023
In July, Canada's merchandise imports decreased 5.4%, while exports were up 0.7%. As a result, Canada's merchandise trade deficit with the world narrowed from a revised $4.9 billion in June to $987 million in July.
Consult the International trade monthly interactive dashboard to explore the most recent results of Canada's international trade in an interactive format.
Strike at British Columbia marine port terminals affects imports and exports
A port strike that significantly affected activity at British Columbia marine terminals began on July 1 and disrupted regular operations for more than 13 days. In July, customs-basis imports that were cleared in British Columbia marine ports were down 18.5% compared with June (not seasonally adjusted). This represented the strongest decline from June to July since 2005. When the data are adjusted for seasonality, widespread declines in overall imports from countries on the Pacific Rim—such as China, Taiwan, South Korea, Peru and Japan—were observed in July on a balance-of-payments basis. Imports of goods that typically arrive through British Columbia marine ports, like consumer goods, electronic products, and industrial machinery and equipment, were down.
Exports leaving British Columbia marine ports also decreased in July, falling 23.0% to their lowest level since February 2020. While declines were observed in overall exports to countries such as Japan, South Korea and India, exports to China posted a large increase. This rise was mainly the result of higher exports of canola, as grain terminals remained active during the strike. Exports of coal, potash, and pulp and paper were among the notable July declines in terms of products typically exported through British Columbia ports.
Canada's international trade may also be affected by this situation in subsequent months as well, as freight backlogs continue to be cleared.
Lower imports of gold and the British Columbia port strike are behind the decrease in imports in July
Total imports decreased 5.4% in July, the strongest percentage decline since January 2022. Overall, imports in 9 of 11 product sections decreased in July 2023 and, as was the case in May and June, imports of unwrought gold were central to the monthly movement. In real (or volume) terms, imports were down 4.3%.
Imports of metal and non-metallic mineral products were down 25.3% in July, primarily because of a decline in imports of unwrought gold, silver, and platinum group metals, and their alloys (-60.5%). This subcategory, which is mainly composed of unwrought gold, fell in July in large part because of lower gold asset transfers between financial institutions. This drop followed two months of large increases in imports of gold. Gold market prices were down in May and June, but then went up slightly in July.
While more than one-third of the decline in total imports was the result of lower imports of gold, a larger part of the monthly movement was because of the combined decreases of product categories that are typically imported from Pacific Rim countries and rely on British Columbia marine port terminals. Among these categories were consumer goods, which fell 4.9% in July. There were widespread declines in the consumer goods subcategories, led by lower imports of clothing, footwear and accessories (-13.6%). Imports of electronic and electrical equipment and parts (-6.4%) also fell, with all subcategories posting negative movements. Finally, imports of industrial machinery, equipment and parts declined 6.1% in July, with decreases observed in seven of the eight subcategories.
Higher exports of aircraft and canola are partially offset by lower exports of gold
Following declines of 2.7% in May and 3.5% in June, total exports were up 0.7% in July. Although the impacts of the British Columbia marine port strike were evident in the exports of some products, declines attributable to strike activity were more than offset by increases in products less affected by this event. In real (or volume) terms, exports edged down 0.2%.
Exports of aircraft and other transportation equipment and parts increased 23.4% in July to reach a record of $3.2 billion. Exports of aircraft almost doubled in July and contributed the most to the increase in the product section. While typically very few aircraft are exported in the first month of a quarter, several private jets and commercial aircraft were exported in July. These were destined to many countries, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Austria, Cyprus and France.
Following four consecutive months of sharp declines, exports of farm, fishing and intermediate food products increased 9.7% in July. Exports of canola more than doubled in July and led the gain in the product section. Higher exports of canola to China and Mexico were behind the monthly increase. Grain terminals in British Columbia continued to operate during the July strike, allowing Canadian grains to be shipped.
Partially offsetting these increases, exports of metal and non-metallic mineral products fell 8.6% in July. As seen with imports, the subcategory unwrought gold, silver, and platinum group metals, and their alloys (-16.8%) was the main contributor to the decline, mainly because of lower exports of unwrought gold. Since the record observed in April, these exports have posted three consecutive monthly declines. The drop in July was mainly the result of lower sales of refined gold to the United States and the United Kingdom.
Amid the British Columbia marine port strike, imports from countries other than the United States fall
Imports from countries other than the United States decreased 13.2% in July, the sharpest decline since October 2016. Imports from China (-27.2%) decreased the most in July 2023, with widespread declines among products imported from that country. Notable decreases were also observed in imports from the United Kingdom (gold) and Germany (passenger cars).
Exports to countries other than the United States were down 2.0% in July. Lower exports to Saudi Arabia (other transportation equipment), Japan (various products) and Italy (pharmaceutical products and crude oil) were largely offset by higher exports to China (canola and wheat).
After reaching a record $11.4 billion in June, Canada's merchandise trade deficit with countries other than the United States narrowed to $8.4 billion in July.
Imports from the United States were down 0.6% in July, while exports to that country rose 1.5%. As a result, Canada's merchandise trade surplus with the United States went from $6.4 billion in June to $7.4 billion in July.
Revisions to June merchandise export and import data
Imports in June, originally reported at $64.4 billion in the previous release, were revised to $64.9 billion in the current reference month. Exports in June, originally reported at $60.7 billion in the previous release, were revised to $60.0 billion in the current reference month's release, mainly because the estimates for crude oil were replaced with actual data.
Monthly trade in services
In July, monthly service exports decreased 0.3% to $15.0 billion. Meanwhile, service imports were up 1.7% to $16.4 billion.
When international trade in goods and services are combined, exports increased 0.5% to $75.4 billion in July, while imports decreased 4.0% to $77.8 billion. As a result, Canada's trade balance with the world went from a deficit of $6.0 billion in June to a deficit of $2.4 billion in July.
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 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 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 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.
Upcoming changes within the Canadian International Merchandise Trade program
In the fall of 2023, Statistics Canada will be updating the North American Product Classification System (NAPCS) used for merchandise import and export statistics. The NAPCS 2022 version will replace NAPCS 2017, which is the version currently in use. Additionally, the reference year applicable to merchandise trade price and volume indexes will be updated from 2012 to 2017 (2017=100).
Nominal values based on NAPCS 2022 for the periods from January 1988 to October 2023 will be published on December 6, 2023. At the same time, price and volume statistics for the new reference year will be published for the periods from January 2017 to October 2023. These changes will be reflected in the third quarter statistics for the balance of international payments and gross domestic product, which are scheduled to be published in November 2023.
For more information, please see NAPCS 2022 and Variant of NAPCS Canada 2022 Version 1.0 – Merchandise import and export accounts (forthcoming), or contact International Accounts and Trade Division Client Services at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Real-time data table
The real-time data table 12-10-0120-01 will be updated on September 18.
Data on Canadian international merchandise trade for August will be released on October 5.
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 online Canadian International Merchandise Trade Database is no longer available. It has been replaced by the Canadian International Merchandise Trade Web Application (71-607-X), a modern tool that 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 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.
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; email@example.com) or Media Relations (firstname.lastname@example.org).