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Canadian international merchandise trade, December 2013

Released: 2014-02-06

Canada's merchandise imports grew 1.2% and exports increased 0.9% in December. Consequently, Canada's trade deficit with the world widened from $1.5 billion in November to $1.7 billion in December.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Exports and imports - Description and data table
Exports and imports

Chart 1: Exports and imports - Description and data table

Imports grew to $41.4 billion, as prices rose 1.6% while volumes declined 0.4%. Higher imports of energy products led the overall increase.

Exports rose to $39.7 billion, as volumes grew 0.8% and prices edged up 0.1%. Increased exports in most sections were slightly offset by declines in energy products; farm, fishing and intermediate food products; and motor vehicles and parts.

Exports to the United States rose 1.2% to $30.0 billion, while imports from the United States declined 0.4% to $27.1 billion. As a result, Canada's trade surplus with the United States widened from $2.4 billion in November to $2.9 billion in December.

Imports from countries other than the United States rose 4.3% to $14.2 billion. A large increase in imports from the principal trading area "other Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development countries" (+38.7%) was partially offset by a decline in imports from the European Union (-12.3%). Crude oil and crude bitumen was the main factor behind both of these opposing movements. Exports to countries other than the United States were unchanged at $9.7 billion in December. Consequently, Canada's trade deficit with countries other than the United States widened from $4.0 billion in November to $4.5 billion in December.

Energy products lead gain in imports

Imports of energy products rose 22.6% to $3.9 billion in December, as volumes grew 11.4% and prices were up 10.0%. Increased imports of crude oil and crude bitumen (+30.7%) and refined petroleum energy products (+32.6%) were the main contributors to the advance.

Imports of basic and industrial chemical, plastic and rubber products grew 7.8% to $3.5 billion on the strength of volumes. Lubricants and other petroleum refinery products was the primary factor behind this gain, as imports increased $425 million to $778 million in December. Fluctuations of this magnitude are common for this commodity grouping.

Imports of metal ores and non-metallic minerals were up 18.5% to $1.1 billion. Leading the increase was other metal ores and concentrates (+27.6%), mainly lead and zinc ores and concentrates. Overall, volumes were up 23.4%.

Imports of aircraft and other transportation equipment and parts were down 9.1% to $1.3 billion. Declines were recorded for almost all commodity groupings, led by aircraft engines and aircraft parts (-8.1%) and ships, locomotives, railway rolling stock, and rapid transit equipment (-40.3%).

Imports of motor vehicles and parts decreased 2.2% to $7.2 billion, as volumes were down 2.6%. Lower imports of motor vehicle engines and motor vehicle parts (-2.3%), medium and heavy trucks, buses and other motor vehicles (-7.7%), and passenger cars and light trucks (-1.2%) all contributed to the section's decline.

Imports of electronic and electrical equipment and parts declined 3.7% to $4.6 billion. There were decreases in all commodity groupings as volumes were down throughout the section.

Exports up on higher volumes

Exports of metal ores and non-metallic minerals grew 19.5% to $1.6 billion in December, on the strength of volumes. The main contributors to the increase in exports were copper ores and concentrates, as well as diamonds and other non-metallic minerals. Lower exports of potash partially offset these gains.

Exports of basic and industrial chemical, plastic and rubber products rose 6.6% to $2.9 billion. Basic chemicals (+13.6%) and lubricants and other petroleum refinery products (+15.8%) were the primary factors behind the gain. Overall, volumes were up 8.0%.

Exports of aircraft and other transportation equipment and parts increased 8.0% to $1.5 billion. Exports of aircraft led the gain, up 26.6% to $613 million.

Exports of farm, fishing and intermediate food products declined 4.5% to $2.3 billion, as volumes were down 5.7%. Lower exports of canola (-17.9%), wheat (-8.5%) and other crop products (-9.5%) all contributed to the section's decrease.

Exports of energy products fell 4.5% to $8.6 billion. Crude oil and crude bitumen was the main contributor to the decline, falling 5.0% to $6.0 billion on lower volumes. Decreases in exports were also recorded for natural gas (-10.2%) and refined petroleum energy products (-7.9%).

Chart 2  Chart 2: Trade balance - Description and data table
Trade balance

Chart 2: Trade balance - Description and data table

  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 (2007=100).

For more information on seasonal adjustment, see Seasonal adjustment and identifying economic trends.

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 are revised with the release of the January, February and March reference months. Revisions to BOP based data for the previous four years were released in June with the April reference month.

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

These data are now available in the Canadian International Merchandise Trade Database (Catalogue number65F0013X). From the Browse by key resource module of our website, choose Publications.

The December 2013 issue of Canadian International Merchandise Trade, Vol. 67, no. 12 (Catalogue number65-001-X), is also now available from the Browse by key resource module of our website under Publications.

Data on Canadian international merchandise trade for January will be released on March 7.

Contact information

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; infostats@statcan.gc.ca).

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Alec Forbes (613-951-0325), International Trade Division.

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