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Canada's merchandise exports rose 4.5% and imports edged up 0.8%. As a result, Canada's trade surplus rose from $1.2 billion in November to $2.7 billion in December.

Exports grew to $42.0 billion in December, as volumes increased 4.9%. The value of exports increased in all sectors, led by machinery and equipment. Exports have been trending upwards since July 2011.

Imports increased to $39.3 billion, as volumes rose 1.2%. The increase in the value of imports was mainly attributed to industrial goods and materials as well as automotive products.

Exports to the United States rose 5.3% to $30.2 billion, on higher exports of crude petroleum, aircraft and precious metals. Imports increased 2.8% to $24.7 billion. Both exports and imports posted their highest levels since October 2008. Canada's trade surplus with the United States grew from $4.7 billion in November to $5.5 billion in December.

Exports to countries other than the United States increased 2.5% to a record high of $11.8 billion. Imports from countries other than the United States declined 2.6% to $14.7 billion, due to lower imports from the European Union. Consequently, Canada's trade deficit with countries other than the United States narrowed from $3.5 billion in November to $2.9 billion in December, the smallest deficit since December 2010.

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 as well as capital and financial flows.

International merchandise trade data by country are available on both a BOP 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. BOP data are derived from customs data by making adjustments 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.

Data in this release are on a BOP basis, seasonally adjusted in current dollars. Constant dollars are calculated using the Laspeyres volume formula.

Changes to the classification

Statistics Canada has reduced the number of 10-digit Harmonized Commodity Coding and Description System (HS) classification codes that are used to report the commodity detail in Canada's merchandise import trade data. This will improve efficiency, maintain data quality and reduce response burden.

These changes are in effect as of January 2012 and coincide with the World Customs Organization 2012 amendments to the 6-digit HS classification codes as well as with Finance Canada's changes to the 2012 Customs Tariff at the 8-digit HS codes. To obtain an HS 2012 Concordance Table, contact the International Trade Division's Marketing and Client Services Section (trade@statcan.gc.ca).