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Canada's balance of international payments, first quarter 2024

Released: 2024-05-30

Current account balance

-$5.4 billion

First quarter 2024

Canada's current account balance (on a seasonal adjusted basis) posted a $5.4 billion deficit in the first quarter, widening $0.9 billion from the previous quarter. This increase was led by the goods balance moving from a surplus into a deficit, which was largely offset by improvements in the services, investment income and transfers balances. The current account balance has now been in a deficit position for seven consecutive quarters.

In the financial account (unadjusted for seasonal variation), inflows of funds from abroad to finance the current account deficit mainly came from transactions in the form of loans as well as currency and deposits in the first quarter. Meanwhile, portfolio and direct investments both moderated the overall inflows, mainly due to significant acquisitions of foreign securities and a rare divestment in foreign direct investment in Canada.

Current account

Goods balance moving into deficit offsets improvement in services balance

The trade in goods and services balance posted a $4.7 billion deficit in the first quarter, a $2.8 billion increase from the fourth quarter of 2023. The increase was largely due to a decline in exports of goods.

The goods balance moved to a deficit of $1.1 billion in the first quarter of 2024 (from a surplus of $2.2 billion in the fourth quarter of 2023), while the services deficit narrowed to $3.6 billion (from a deficit of $4.1 billion in the fourth quarter of 2023).

Crude oil leads goods exports decline

Exports of goods declined 1.3% to $191.7 billion in the first quarter of 2024. Exports of energy products fell 4.7% to $44.3 billion, largely due to lower prices for crude oil. Exports of metal products rose 9.7% to reach a record high of $24.5 billion, partially offsetting the overall decrease in exports. The increase in metal products was largely due to higher exports of gold.

Imports of goods were up 0.4% to $192.8 billion in the first quarter, as increases in imports of electronic products (+3.5%), consumer goods (+1.4%) and energy products (+4.5%) were partially offset by lower imports of motor vehicles (-3.3%).

Trade in services deficit narrows on higher commercial services exports

The trade in services deficit narrowed by $0.5 billion to $3.6 billion in the first quarter, almost entirely due to an increase in the commercial services surplus.

Exports of commercial services were up 2.1% to $32.4 billion in the first quarter, led by higher receipts of royalties and financial services. Computer services exports reached a new high, after having sustained increases in 2023.

In the first quarter of 2024, imports of commercial services edged down 0.2%, as increased imports of financial services (+18.8%) and technical services (+7.1%) were mitigated by a decline in imports of audio-visual services and equipment rentals.

The travel deficit widened slightly to $1.2 billion in the first quarter, as exports (-1.7%) declined more than imports (-1.2%). The decline in imports was the first since the second quarter of 2021.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Current account balances
Current account balances

Investment income surplus grows

The investment income surplus widened by $1.1 billion to $1.6 billion in the first quarter of 2024. Interest received on foreign loans and deposits increased, as did income from holdings of foreign securities. Profits earned by both Canadian direct investors abroad (receipts) and by foreign direct investors in Canada (payments) were up.

Financial account

Record Canadian investment in foreign bonds

Canadian investors acquired a record $37.2 billion of foreign bonds in the first quarter, more than they had acquired during the entire year of 2023. Acquisitions of government bonds accounted for the bulk of the activity.

In addition, Canadian investors increased their holdings of foreign stocks by $14.1 billion in the first quarter of 2024, led by acquisitions of US equity securities (+$19.8 billion), most of which were large capitalization technology shares. US share prices, as measured by the Standard and Poor's 500 composite index, reached a record high level by the end of the quarter.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Foreign portfolio investment
Foreign portfolio investment

Foreign investors acquired $57.9 billion of Canadian bonds in the first quarter, the highest level since the first quarter of 2022. Acquisitions of federal government bonds and private corporate bonds accounted for most of the activity in the first quarter of 2024. The investment in private corporate bonds was mainly in foreign currency instruments issued by Canadian chartered banks.

At the same time, foreign investors reduced their holdings of both Canadian short-term debt securities (-$28.2 billion) and Canadian portfolio shares (-$6.1 billion).

Foreign direct investors withdraw funds from Canada

Canadian direct investment abroad reached $29.8 billion in the first quarter, up from a $17.3 billion investment in the previous quarter. Merger and acquisition transactions (+$16.8 billion) and earnings reinvested in foreign affiliates by their Canadian parents (+$16.2 billion) contributed to the activity in the first quarter.

The merger and acquisition activities in the first quarter were the highest they had been since the first quarter of 2023 and were diversified across regions and industries. The trade and transportation sector accounted for almost half of the overall direct investment abroad activity in the first quarter of 2024, and most of the investments were directed to the United States.

Chart 3  Chart 3: Foreign direct investment
Foreign direct investment

Foreign direct investors withdrew $6.2 billion of funds from Canada in the first quarter, the first divestment in 14 years. The divestment was led by merger and acquisition activities (-$11.1 billion) and was mitigated by earnings reinvested by foreign parents in their Canadian affiliates (+$7.3 billion).

Cross-border mergers and acquisitions are negative when, on a net basis, foreign direct investors sell existing assets back to Canadian investors. In the first quarter, the finance and insurance sector saw the largest decrease, which was partially offset by investments in the manufacturing, trade and transportation, and energy and mining sectors.

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  Note to readers


This release incorporates statistical revisions from the first quarter of 2023, notably to trade in services. Revisions to travel services for the fourth quarter of 2023 are coming from the integration of new survey results from National Travel Survey (imports) and Visitor Travel Survey (exports). The revisions to commercial services exports and imports mainly reflect new survey information, leading to lower levels of trade in some specific categories of commercial services for all quarters of 2023.


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.

Real-time table

Real-time table 36-10-0042-01 will be updated on June 3. For more information, see Real-time data tables.

Next release

Balance of international payments data for the second quarter of 2024 will be released on August 29.


The document, "Enterprise surveys and the measurement of digital trade in services in Canada," which is part of Latest Developments in the Canadian Economic Accounts (Catalogue number13-605-X), is available.

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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