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February 2009

Merchandise exports and imports both advanced in February following three months of rapid decline. Exports rose 5.2% to $33.1 billion as all sectors increased and auto makers resumed production. Meanwhile, imports increased 1.1% to $33.0 billion led by machinery and equipment. This resulted in a small trade surplus of $126 million, up from a deficit of $1.2 billion in January.

After leading the decline in January, exports of machinery and equipment and automotive products accounted for almost three-quarters of the gain in exports in February. The increase in total exports was due to a 7.0% increase in volume while prices declined 1.7%.

The February gain in imports was primarily supported by machinery and equipment and automotive products while weaknesses in energy products dampened the growth. Overall, both price and volume increased, 0.9% and 0.2% respectively.

Exports to the United States increased 5.0% on the strength of automotive products and precious metals. Imports rose 3.7%, largely reflecting increases in automotive products and aircraft.

As a result, Canada's merchandise trade surplus with the United States increased to $3.4 billion in February from $3.0 billion in January.

The trade deficit with countries other than the United States narrowed to $3.3 billion from $4.2 billion in January, as exports increased 5.9% while imports decreased 3.1%. Exports to China, Italy and Australia led the gain in exports to countries other than the United States.

Note to readers

Merchandise trade is one component of the current account of Canada's balance of payments, which also includes trade in services, investment income and transfers.

International merchandise trade data by country are available on both a balance of payments and a customs basis for the United States, Japan and the United Kingdom. Trade data for all other individual countries are available on a customs basis only. Balance of payments data are derived from customs data by making adjustments for characteristics 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.

Constant dollars referred to in the text are calculated using the Laspeyres volume formula which is current dollars divided by Paasche indexes.


In general, merchandise trade data are revised on an ongoing basis for each month of the current year. Current and previous year revisions are reflected in both the customs and balance of payments based data. Revisions to customs based data for the previous year are also released on a quarterly basis.

Factors influencing revisions include late receipt of import and export documentation, incorrect information on customs forms, replacement of estimates with actual figures, changes in classification of merchandise based on more current information, and changes to seasonal adjustment factors.

Revised data are available in the appropriate CANSIM tables.

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