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April 2009

  1. Canada’s merchandise exports fell 5.1% to $30.8 billion in April mostly due to 3.2% reduction in prices while volumes decreased 1.9%.
  2. Lower exports of industrial goods and materials, energy products, and machinery and equipment largely accounted for the decrease in overall exports. Gains in agricultural and fishing products, and automotive products partially offset the decline.
  3. Imports decreased 1.5% to $31.0 billion mainly due to declines in industrial goods and materials as well as machinery and equipment. Import prices were down 1.8% while volumes edged up 0.3%.
  4. Exports and imports have generally been trending downwards since the peak of July 2008. Exports have fallen $13.6 billion or 30.6% since July 2008 with more than 80% of the decline occurring from November 2008 to January 2009. In comparison, imports have declined $8.5 billion or 21.6% since July 2008 with almost 70% of the decrease occurring in December 2008 and January 2009.
  5. In April, Canada posted a small trade deficit with the world of $179 million following a surplus of $1.0 billion in March.
  6. Canada’s trade surplus with the United States shrank to $2.8 billion from $3.5 billion in March as exports and imports declined 4.4% and 1.7% respectively. Since July 2008, exports to the United States accounted for 88% of the decrease in Canada’s exports to the world. Accordingly, the United States share of Canada’s exports was 72.3% in April 2009, down from 77.0% in July 2008.
  7. The trade deficit with countries other than the United States widened to $3.0 billion from $2.4 billion in March as exports fell 6.9% and imports edged down 1.0%. After a solid gain in March, exports to the European Union fell 16.6% and led the decrease 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, transfers, capital and financial flows.

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. Revisions to balance of payments based data for the four previous years are included with today’s release.

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.

Chart 2