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Canadian international merchandise trade

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September 2009 (Previous release)

Canada's merchandise exports rose 3.5% in September, while there was little change in imports. As a result, Canada's trade deficit with the world narrowed to $927 million from $2.0 billion in August.

Exports and imports

Exports rose by $1.0 billion to $30.3 billion in September, as volumes increased 4.5%. Exports which have been on a downward trend since July 2008, reached a low point in May 2009. Since then, exports have increased in three of the past four months.

Automotive products, industrial goods and materials, and machinery and equipment were the main sources of growth for exports. Energy products mitigated the gains.

In September, imports edged down 0.1% to $31.2 billion, as volumes fell 0.8%. However, declines in imports in both August and September did not offset the strong gain in July 2009.

Note to readers

Merchandise trade is one component of Canada's international balance of payments, 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 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.


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 balance of payments based data. Revisions to customs based data for the previous year are released on a quarterly basis. Revisions to balance of payments based data for the three previous years are released annually in June.

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.

Declines occurred in imports of automotive products, machinery and equipment, energy products and agricultural and fishing products. These were mostly offset by a solid gain in imports of industrial goods and materials. If this sector was excluded, total imports would have declined 2.1%.

Exports to the United States increased 0.5% while imports grew 1.7%. As a result, Canada's trade surplus with the United States shrank to $2.1 billion in September from $2.3 billion in August.

Exports to countries other than the United States increased 12.4% and accounted for 88% of the increase in overall exports while imports declined 3.2%. Higher exports to the European Union were largely responsible for the increase in exports. Consequently, Canada's trade deficit with countries other than the United States narrowed to $3.0 billion in September from $4.3 billion in August.

Trade balance

Rising volumes of automotive products lead the gain in exports

Exports of automotive products increased 15.8% to $4.2 billion in September, as volumes rose 17.4%. Exports of passenger autos, up 18.4%, led the gain as new models were introduced, and some manufacturers resumed production after summer shutdowns. Exports of motor vehicle parts grew 8.6%, reflecting increased vehicle production in the United States in an effort to replenish inventories, which were depleted during the summer "cash for clunker" sales. Exports of trucks and other motor vehicles also increased, following a decline in August.

Exports of industrial goods and materials grew 6.3% to $6.6 billion, largely the result of higher exports of metals and alloys which increased 12.3%. Precious metals such as non-monetary gold posted a strong gain, halting two months of declines. Other crude non-metallic minerals also posted a solid gain. Exports of copper ores, down 42.0%, moderated the increase in this sector.

Machinery and equipment exports were up 4.5% to $6.4 billion due to rising volumes. Aircraft and other transportation equipment (+8.6%), and industrial and agricultural machinery (+7.4%), were largely responsible for the gain in this sector.

Exports of energy products fell 2.5% to $6.4 billion. This third consecutive monthly decrease was the result of a 2.9% decline in prices. The main contributor to the fall was a 16.4% decline in petroleum and coal products which includes light oils and diesel fuel.

Little change in imports

After three consecutive months of increases, imports of automotive products fell 4.7% to $4.8 billion. The decline was the result of a 31.5% decrease in imports of trucks and other motor vehicles, as imports of passenger autos and motor vehicle parts increased. Imports of trucks and other motor vehicles had registered strong gains in August, in order to replenish inventories and compensate for vehicles no longer produced in Canada.

Imports of machinery and equipment decreased 1.7% to $8.8 billion. This represented a second straight month of decline, after the strong gains in July. Lower imports of aircraft and other transportation equipment were the main factor behind the decline, followed by office machines and equipment.

Lower imports of crude petroleum largely contributed to the decline in the energy product sector, which fell 4.5% to $2.8 billion. Imports of crude petroleum decreased 6.7% due to volume reductions, as inventories remained at high levels in September.

Imports of agricultural and fishing products decreased 4.7% to $2.4 billion. Although the declines were widespread throughout the sector, lower imports of beverages accounted for over one-third of the decline.

Imports of industrial goods and materials grew 8.5% to $6.4 billion. Metals and metal ores, up 20.9%, accounted for more than three-quarters of the increase. Imports of precious metals (such as gold and silver) led the increase, followed by metals in ores. Other chemicals such as inorganic chemicals, also registered gains in September.

Available on CANSIM: tables 228-0001 to 228-0003, 228-0033, 228-0034, 228-0041 to 228-0043 and 228-0047 to 228-0057.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey numbers, including related surveys, 2201, 2202 and 2203.

The September 2009 issue of Canadian International Merchandise Trade, Vol. 63, no. 9 (65-001-X, free) is now available from the Publications module of our website.

Current account data (which incorporate merchandise trade statistics, service transactions, investment income and transfers) are available quarterly in Canada's Balance of International Payments (67-001-X, free).

For more information contact Sharon Nevins (toll-free 1-800-294-5583; 613-951-9798). To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Mychèle Gagnon (613-951-0994), International Trade Division.

Table 1

Merchandise trade
  August 2009r September 2009 August to September 2009 September 2008 to September 2009
  Seasonally adjusted, $ current
  $ millions % change
Principal trading partners        
United States 21,931 22,051 0.5 -30.2
Japan 633 666 5.2 -37.5
European Union1 2,210 2,964 34.1 -10.7
Other OECD countries2 1,311 1,513 15.4 -25.7
All other countries 3,143 3,061 -2.6 -24.9
Total 29,229 30,254 3.5 -28.1
United States 19,666 19,992 1.7 -16.0
Japan 844 740 -12.3 -27.2
European Union1 2,967 3,000 1.1 -31.1
Other OECD countries2 2,534 2,123 -16.2 -7.3
All other countries 5,209 5,325 2.2 -19.5
Total 31,220 31,181 -0.1 -18.1
United States 2,265 2,059 ... ...
Japan -211 -74 ... ...
European Union1 -757 -36 ... ...
Other OECD countries2 -1,223 -610 ... ...
All other countries -2,066 -2,264 ... ...
Total -1,991 -927 ... ...
Principal commodity groupings        
Agricultural and fishing products 2,815 2,772 -1.5 -18.8
Energy products 6,538 6,375 -2.5 -42.5
Forestry products 1,533 1,560 1.8 -30.5
Industrial goods and materials 6,216 6,608 6.3 -32.1
Machinery and equipment 6,155 6,433 4.5 -18.3
Automotive products 3,636 4,211 15.8 -16.7
Other consumer goods 1,419 1,384 -2.5 -5.4
Special transactions trade3 521 529 1.5 -26.7
Other balance of payments adjustments 395 382 -3.3 -22.2
Agricultural and fishing products 2,466 2,350 -4.7 -5.1
Energy products 2,946 2,814 -4.5 -38.8
Forestry products 193 202 4.7 -14.4
Industrial goods and materials 5,861 6,361 8.5 -19.9
Machinery and equipment 8,948 8,797 -1.7 -15.8
Automotive products 5,043 4,806 -4.7 -20.7
Other consumer goods 4,675 4,696 0.4 -5.2
Special transactions trade3 416 492 18.3 -19.1
Other balance of payments adjustments 673 663 -1.5 -11.6
not applicable
The European Union includes Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, and United Kingdom.
Other countries in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) include Australia, Canada, Iceland, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, South Korea, Switzerland and Turkey.
These are mainly low valued transactions, value of repairs to equipment, and goods returned to country of origin.
Totals may not equal the sum of their components.