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Canadian international merchandise trade, December 2014

Released: 2015-02-05

Canada's imports increased by 2.3% in December and exports rose 1.5%. As a result, Canada's merchandise trade deficit with the world widened from $335 million in November to $649 million in December.

Import volumes increased 2.8%, while prices declined 0.5%. Meanwhile, export volumes rose 3.5%, while prices declined 1.9%.

Imports were 7.6% higher in 2014 than in 2013 while exports increased 10.3%. Consequently, Canada's annual merchandise trade balance with the world swung from a deficit of $7.2 billion in 2013 to a surplus of $5.2 billion in 2014.

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

Chart 1: Exports and imports - Description and data table

The trade deficit with non-US countries widens, while the trade surplus with the United States narrows

Imports from countries other than the United States were up 5.3% to $14.7 billion in December. There were higher imports from Saudi Arabia (+$174 million), Norway (+$171 million) and the United Kingdom (+$116 million). Imports from the United States increased 0.8% to $30.0 billion in December.

Exports to countries other than the United States increased 4.5% to $11.0 billion, led by exports to the United Kingdom, up $470 million. Exports to the United States were up 0.6% to $33.1 billion.

As a result, Canada's trade deficit with countries other than the United States widened from $3.5 billion in November to $3.8 billion in December. Meanwhile, Canada's trade surplus with the United States narrowed from $3.2 billion in November to $3.1 billion in December.

Widespread increases in imports

Imports rose to $44.7 billion in December with gains in 8 of 11 sections. The main contributors to the increase in imports were energy products, motor vehicles and parts, as well as metal and non-metallic mineral products.

Imports of energy products rose 9.3% to $3.5 billion. Imports of crude oil and crude bitumen increased 20.2% to $1.9 billion, on higher volumes, as a number of refineries have returned to full capacity following maintenance.

Motor vehicles and parts advanced 3.3% to a record $8.1 billion. Imports of motor vehicle engines and motor vehicle parts (+5.4%) and passenger cars and light trucks (+2.1%) were the main contributors to the gain.

Imports of metal and non-metallic mineral products increased 6.1% to $4.2 billion, as volumes rose 4.4% and prices 1.7%. There were increases in 9 of the 10 commodity groupings in the section, led by unwrought precious metals and precious metal alloys, up 18.6% to $926 million.

Exports up on higher volumes

Exports rose to $44.1 billion in December. There were gains in 8 of 11 sections, led by metals and non-metallic mineral products.

Exports of metal and non-metallic mineral products increased 13.1% to a record $5.6 billion in December. Overall, volumes rose 10.4% and prices 2.4%. This increase was led by exports of unwrought precious metals and precious metal alloys, which rose 28.2% to $1.9 billion, followed by exports of unwrought, basic and semi-finished aluminum and aluminum-alloy products, up 28.1% to $860 million.

Consumer goods advanced 5.2% to $5.2 billion, on higher volumes. Exports of pharmaceutical and medicinal products increased 14.7% to $806 million. Other food products, mainly yellow peas, also increased in December, up 6.2% to $1.1 billion.

Partially offsetting these increases was a 10.3% decline in energy products to $8.6 billion, the seventh consecutive monthly decrease. There were lower exports of crude oil and crude bitumen (-12.0%) and natural gas (-19.7%) but higher exports of refined petroleum energy products (+13.7%). Overall, prices declined 12.3% while volumes were up 2.3%.

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 trade data by commodity are available on both a BOP and a customs basis. International trade data by country are available on a customs basis for all countries, and on a BOP basis for Canada's 27 principal trading partners (PTPs). The list of PTPs is based on their annual share of total merchandise trade—imports and exports—with Canada in 2012. 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.

For a BOP versus customs-based data conceptual analysis, see "Balance of Payments trade in goods at Statistics Canada: Expanding geographic detail to 27 principal trading partners."

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.

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, revisions to BOP based data for the previous four years are released annually in December with the October 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.

For more information on revisions for crude oil and natural gas, see "Revisions to trade data for crude oil and natural gas."

Revised data are available in the appropriate CANSIM tables.

Customs based 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 2014 issue of Canadian International Merchandise Trade, Vol. 68, no. 12 (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 January will be released on March 6.

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 Nita Boushey (613-404-4965), International Accounts and Trade Division.

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