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Canadian international merchandise trade, March 2014

Released: 2014-05-06

Canada's merchandise exports declined 1.4% in March, while imports edged up 0.4%. As a result, Canada's trade surplus with the world narrowed from $847 million in February to $79 million in March.

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

Chart 1: Exports and imports - Description and data table

Exports declined to $42.7 billion, with prices down 2.0% and volumes up 0.7%. Energy products were the main contributor to the overall decline in exports.

Imports edged up to $42.6 billion, as increases in basic and industrial chemical, plastic and rubber products as well as consumer goods were largely offset by declines in electronic and electrical equipment and parts as well as energy products. Overall, prices were up 0.4% and volumes were unchanged.

Exports to the United States declined 2.5% to $32.2 billion, on lower values of energy products, while imports from the United States rose 1.0% to $28.5 billion. Consequently, Canada's trade surplus with the United States narrowed from $4.9 billion in February to $3.8 billion in March.

Exports to countries other than the United States rose 2.5% to $10.5 billion, led by the European Union, up 8.5%. Imports from countries other than the United States declined 0.7% to $14.2 billion. Lower imports from the principal trading area "Other Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries" (-9.5%) were largely offset by higher imports from the European Union (+7.1%). As a result, Canada's trade deficit with countries other than the United States went from $4.0 billion in February to $3.7 billion in March.

Exports down on energy products

Exports of energy products fell 7.9% to $11.2 billion in March, following three consecutive months of significant increases. Crude oil and crude bitumen (-7.3%) and natural gas (-17.5%) were the main contributors to the decline in March, as well as to the previous three increases. Overall, prices (-4.8%) and volumes (-3.2%) were down.

Exports of forestry products and building and packaging materials declined 7.6% to $2.7 billion, entirely on volumes. Lower exports were reported for lumber and other sawmill and millwork products (-16.9%) as well as pulp and paper stock (-7.5%).

Exports of metal and non-metallic mineral products rose 8.0% to $4.6 billion, led by unwrought precious metals and precious metal alloys (+20.3%). Overall, volumes were up 7.3%.

Imports edge up

Imports of basic and industrial chemical, plastic and rubber products increased 6.3% to $3.7 billion in March. Lubricants and other petroleum refinery products (+21.2%) and fertilizer, pesticide and other chemical products (+12.7%) both contributed to the section's gains. Overall, volumes grew 3.9% and prices rose 2.3%.

Imports of consumer goods rose 1.7% to $8.6 billion, as volumes increased 2.4%. Imports of pharmaceutical and medicinal products led the increase, up 9.5% in March following a 9.4% decline in February.

Imports of energy products declined 2.6% to $4.0 billion. Imports of crude oil and crude bitumen, down 14.7% to $1.9 billion, were the main factor behind the decrease. Partially offsetting this decline were imports of natural gas, which rose 68.5% to a record high $592 million, primarily as a result of higher prices.

Imports of electronic and electrical equipment and parts decreased 3.7% to $4.7 billion. Declines were reported for all commodity groupings, led by communications and audio and video equipment (-4.9%). Overall, volumes fell 4.9%.

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. To remain consistent with the Canadian System of macroeconomic accounts, annual revisions will take place in December with the October reference month rather than in June, as was previously the case.

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 March 2014 issue of Canadian International Merchandise Trade, Vol. 68, no. 3 (Catalogue number65-001-X), is also available from the Browse by key resource module of our website under Publications.

Data on Canadian international merchandise trade for April will be released on June 4.

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 Accounts and Trade Division.

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