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Canadian international merchandise trade, April 2014

Released: 2014-06-04

Canada's merchandise exports declined 1.8% while imports increased 1.4% in April. As a result, Canada's trade balance with the world went from a surplus of $766 million in March to a deficit of $638 million in April.

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 $42.8 billion, as prices decreased 1.0% and volumes 0.8%. Declines in exports of energy products as well as metal and non-metallic mineral products were partially offset by an increase in exports of forestry products and building and packaging materials.

Imports increased for a third consecutive month to reach a record high $43.5 billion in April. Gains were recorded in 7 of 11 sections, led by consumer goods. Overall, volumes rose 1.9% while prices were down 0.4%.

Exports to the European Union decline

Exports to countries other than the United States fell 7.0% to $9.8 billion in April. Exports destined for the European Union declined 22.8%, on lower exports of unwrought precious metals and precious metal alloys. Imports from countries other than the United States increased 3.5% to $14.7 billion. Higher imports were recorded for all principal trading areas, led by "all other countries" (+3.0%). As a result, Canada's trade deficit with countries other than the United States widened from $3.7 billion in March to $4.9 billion in April.

Exports to the United States edged down 0.2% to $33.0 billion while imports from the United States edged up 0.3% to $28.7 billion. Consequently, Canada's trade surplus with the United States fell from $4.4 billion in March to $4.3 billion in April.

Energy products lead decline in exports

Exports of energy products fell 10.7% to $10.7 billion in April, after reaching $12.0 billion in March, which was the highest value since July 2008. Overall, volumes decreased 6.4% and prices 4.6%. The main contributors to the decline in exports were natural gas (-34.1%) and refined petroleum energy products (-39.5%). Exports of refined petroleum energy products fell as some Canadian refineries were conducting maintenance.

Exports of metal and non-metallic mineral products declined 6.2% to $4.4 billion, as volumes were down 7.2%. Unwrought precious metals and precious metal alloys, down 14.4% to $1.3 billion, was the main factor behind the section's decrease in exports.

Exports of forestry products and building and packaging materials rose 14.6% to $3.1 billion. Pulp and paper stock (+20.0%) and lumber and other sawmill and millwork products (+21.3%) led the increase. These two commodity groupings recorded significant declines in March. Overall, volumes were up 17.4%.

Imports increase on higher volumes

Imports of consumer goods rose 3.6% to a record high $9.0 billion in April, as volumes increased 2.8%. April's growth in imports marks a fifth consecutive monthly gain and the ninth increase in 12 months. Gains were widespread, as many commodity groupings reached record highs. The section's increase was led by miscellaneous goods and supplies (+5.2%) and clothing, footwear and accessories (+4.8%).

Imports of electronic and electrical equipment and parts grew 4.4% to $4.9 billion, as volumes rose 6.0%. The main contributors to the increase in imports were computers and computer peripheral equipment (+8.8%) and communications and audio and video equipment (+5.1%).

Imports of basic and industrial chemical, plastic and rubber products increased 5.4% to a record high $3.9 billion. Lubricants and other petroleum refinery products led the gains, rising 11.3% to $788 million on higher volumes.

Imports of metal ores and non-metallic minerals fell 30.9% to $689 million, as volumes were down 28.4% and prices decreased 3.5%. The main contributor to the decline was the commodity grouping "other metal ores and concentrates," mainly gold bullion, which decreased 33.5% to $481 million in April following a 21.3% gain in March.

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 Seasonally Adjusted Data – Frequently Asked Questions.


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 April 2014 issue of Canadian International Merchandise Trade, Vol. 68, no. 4 (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 May will be released on July 3.

Contact information

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300;

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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