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Canada's merchandise exports edged down 0.4% and imports decreased 0.6%. As a result Canada's trade surplus increased from $273 million in February to $351 million in March.

Exports decreased for a third consecutive month to $39.5 billion as prices fell 1.3%. Exports of energy products led the overall decline, partially offset by increases of industrial goods and materials as well as machinery and equipment.

Imports declined to $39.1 billion, as prices decreased 2.3%. The overall decline was a result of lower imports of energy products and industrial goods and materials; all remaining sectors registered increases.

Exports to the United States fell 2.1% to $28.7 billion, the third consecutive monthly decrease. Imports also declined, down 1.4% to $24.1 billion in March. Consequently, Canada's trade surplus with the United States decreased from $4.9 billion in February to $4.6 billion in March.

Exports to countries other than the United States rose 4.5% to $10.8 billion and imports increased 0.8% to $15.1 billion. As a result, Canada's trade deficit with countries other than the United States narrowed from $4.6 billion in February to $4.3 billion in March.

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 and in current dollars. Constant dollars are calculated using the Laspeyres volume formula.

Revisions

In general, merchandise trade data are revised on an ongoing basis for each month of the current year. Current year revisions are reflected in both the customs and BOP based data.

The previous year's customs data are revised with the release of the January and February reference months as well as on a quarterly basis. The previous two years of customs based data are revised annually and are released in February with the December reference month.

The previous year's BOP based data will be revised with the release of the January, February, March and April 2012 reference months.

Factors influencing revisions include late receipt of import and export documentation, incorrect information on customs forms, replacement of estimates produced for the energy sector 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, free of charge.