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Canadian international merchandise trade, March 2015

Released: 2015-05-05

Canada's imports increased 2.2% in March while exports edged up 0.4%. Import volumes rose 1.5% and prices 0.6%. For exports, volumes increased 1.9%, while prices declined 1.5%. As a result, Canada's merchandise trade deficit with the world widened from $2.2 billion in February to a record $3.0 billion in March.

February's trade deficit, originally reported as $984 million in last month's release, was revised to $2.2 billion as estimates of exports of energy products were updated with administrative and survey data as they became available.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Merchandise exports and imports - Description and data table
Merchandise exports and imports

Chart 1: Merchandise exports and imports - Description and data table

Imports from countries other than the United States increase

Imports from countries other than the United States increased 10.0% to $16.3 billion in March, on higher imports from China (+$902 million). Imports from the United States fell 1.7% to $29.3 billion.

Exports to countries other than the United States rose 4.2% to $11.1 billion. There were higher exports to Japan (+$210 million) and Switzerland (+$108 million). Exports to the United States declined 0.9% to $31.4 billion.

Consequently, Canada's trade deficit with countries other than the United States widened from $4.2 billion in February to $5.2 billion in March. Canada's trade surplus with the United States widened from $1.9 billion in February to $2.2 billion in March.

Consumer goods lead the gain in imports

Imports rose to $45.5 billion in March, as 7 of 11 sections increased. Imports increased 0.6% in the first quarter of 2015 from the fourth quarter of 2014. However, quarterly imports were down 0.2% in real (or volume) terms.

Imports of consumer goods were up 7.9% to $10.0 billion in March, the fourth consecutive monthly increase. The increase in March was widespread throughout the section, as 16 of its 20 commodity groupings advanced. The main contributors were clothing, footwear and accessories (+21.1%) and miscellaneous goods and supplies (+6.9%). Overall, volumes were up 6.7% and prices 1.1%.

Imports of motor vehicles and parts increased 3.7% to $7.9 billion. All commodity groupings within this section rose. Passenger cars and light trucks led the increase, up 5.7% to $3.4 billion. For the section as a whole, volumes rose 3.9%.

Meanwhile, aircraft and other transportation equipment and parts declined 8.4% to $1.6 billion, following two consecutive monthly increases. Lower imports of aircraft were the main contributor, down 36.0% to $374 million.

Exports edge up

Exports edged up to $42.5 billion in March. An increase in exports of motor vehicles and parts was mostly offset by a decline in energy products. Excluding energy products, exports increased 2.4% in March. Total exports declined 3.0% in the first quarter of 2015 from the fourth quarter of 2014. However, quarterly exports were up 0.6% in real (or volume) terms.

Exports of motor vehicles and parts increased 11.7% to $6.6 billion, as volumes rose 10.6%. Higher exports of passenger cars and light trucks, up 18.1% to $4.4 billion, were by far the largest contributor to the increase in the section.

Exports of energy products declined 8.9% to $6.9 billion. There were widespread decreases in exports among the commodity groupings in the section, led by refined petroleum energy products, down 29.7% to $855 million. Exports of natural gas (-16.2%) and crude oil and crude bitumen (-2.7%) also declined. For the section as a whole, prices fell 7.0% and volumes 2.1%.

Chart 2  Chart 2: International merchandise trade balance - Description and data table
International merchandise trade balance

Chart 2: International merchandise 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, March and April reference months. To remain consistent with the Canadian System of macroeconomic accounts, revisions to BOP based data for previous 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 March 2015 issue of Canadian International Merchandise Trade, Vol. 69, 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 3.

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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