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Canadian international merchandise trade, April 2015

Released: 2015-06-03

Canada's imports declined 2.5% in April and exports were down 0.7%. Import volumes fell 1.8% and prices were down 0.8%. Meanwhile, export volumes increased 0.5% while prices declined 1.2%. As a result, Canada's merchandise trade deficit with the world narrowed from $3.9 billion in March to $3.0 billion in April.

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 China and the United States decrease

Imports from countries other than the United States were down 5.3% to $15.5 billion, mainly on lower imports from China (-$869 million). Imports from the United States fell 1.0% to $29.4 billion in April.

Exports to countries other than the United States declined 7.2% to $10.1 billion. There were lower exports to Japan (-$173 million) and Switzerland (-$130 million). Exports to the United States increased 1.6% to $31.8 billion.

As a result, Canada's trade deficit with countries other than the United States narrowed slightly in April. Canada's trade surplus with the United States widened from $1.6 billion in March to $2.4 billion in April.

Imports decline on lower volumes

Imports declined to $44.9 billion in April, as 7 of 11 sections decreased. Lower imports of consumer goods as well as metal and non-metallic mineral products were partially offset by increases in motor vehicles and parts as well as energy products. Year over year, imports were up 4.1%.

Imports of consumer goods fell 6.2% to $9.4 billion on lower volumes. There were widespread declines throughout the section, led by clothing, footwear and accessories (-15.6%) and miscellaneous goods and supplies (-5.8%).

Metal and non-metallic mineral products decreased 11.3% to $3.7 billion in April. Lower imports of unwrought precious metals and precious metal alloys, which declined 36.0% to $583 million, were the main contributor. Overall, volumes fell 7.6% and prices 4.1%.

Meanwhile, imports of motor vehicles and parts were up 2.7% to a record $8.2 billion. Higher imports of passenger cars and light trucks led the increase, rising 10.5% to $3.9 billion, also a record. This was partially offset by a decline in medium and heavy trucks, buses and other motor vehicles, down 11.9% to $828 million.

Imports of energy products rose 7.4% to $2.9 billion in April. Imports of crude oil and crude bitumen increased 22.4% to $1.6 billion, as prices rose 15.4% and volumes 6.1%.

Exports down in most sections

Exports declined to $41.9 billion in April. This was the seventh decline since July 2014, when exports reached a record $45.6 billion. In April, the decreases in consumer goods as well as forestry products and building and packaging materials were mostly offset by an increase in energy products. Excluding energy products, exports fell 2.0% in April compared with a 0.7% decline in total exports.

Exports of consumer goods decreased 6.0% to $5.0 billion, as volumes were down 6.2%. Lower exports of pharmaceutical and medicinal products were the main contributor, falling 28.0% to $578 million.

Exports of forestry products and building and packaging materials declined 5.0% to $3.2 billion in April. There were widespread decreases throughout the section, led by lumber and other sawmill and millwork products, down 8.2% to $1.1 billion. Overall, volumes declined 3.3% and prices 1.7%.

Mostly offsetting these decreases, exports of energy products increased 5.9% to $7.3 billion. Overall, volumes were up 8.3% while prices declined 2.2%. Exports of crude oil and crude bitumen rose 10.8% to $4.9 billion, primarily on the strength of volumes, while exports in most of the other commodity groupings within this section declined.

Revisions to March imports and exports

March's imports, originally reported as $45.5 billion in last month's release, were revised to $46.1 billion. Exports, originally reported as $42.5 billion for March, were revised to $42.2 billion. Revisions reflect initial estimates being updated or replaced with administrative and survey data as they became available, as well as corrections made for late documentation of high-value transactions.

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 April 2015 issue of Canadian International Merchandise Trade, Vol. 69, 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 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 Nita Boushey (613-404-4965; nita.boushey@statcan.gc.ca), International Accounts and Trade Division.

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