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Canada's international trade in services, 2016

Released: 2017-10-12

Canada's deficit on international transactions in services narrowed by $2.3 billion to $23.3 billion in 2016, mainly reflecting a lower travel services deficit. Moderating this change was a fourth consecutive annual reduction in Canada's commercial services surplus.

On a geographical basis, the deficit with non-US countries was reduced by $2.0 billion in 2016 to $9.8 billion. The deficit with the United States narrowed for a third consecutive year, down by $0.3 billion to $13.5 billion.

This marked the first reduction in the deficit since 2011. The services deficit had been generally growing since the mid-2000s, mainly due to an expanding travel deficit.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Services balances
Services balances

Lower travel deficit leads the changes in the services balance

The international travel deficit fell $3.2 billion to $14.2 billion in 2016, the lowest level in seven years. The deficit with the United States narrowed by $1.8 billion, as Canadians reduced their expenses and US residents increased their spending in Canada. In addition, the deficit with non-US countries was down by $1.4 billion as spending by non-US travellers visiting Canada increased by more than those made by Canadians on their overseas trips.

The surplus in commercial services was down by $1.3 billion in 2016 to $1.0 billion, as growth in payments outpaced that of receipts. Imports of commercial services were up by $3.0 billion, led by stronger payments in the financial services category. Exports rose by $1.7 billion, with larger receipts also recorded in financial services.

Securities trading, and the corresponding commissions generated from these transactions, has been a major source behind the decline in the commercial services surplus over the previous four years. Canadian firms have been actively raising funds in international credit markets during this period, contributing to the significant increase in payments of commissions to foreign firms facilitating this activity.

The transportation services deficit edged down by $0.3 billion to $10.5 billion in 2016. Receipts rose by $0.5 billion, with most of the gains in air transportation and, to a lesser extent, land transportation. Payments edged up $0.2 billion, mainly as a result of higher spending on land transportation.

Services deficit down with non-US countries

On a geographical basis, the overall deficit with non-US countries was reduced by $2.0 billion. The deficit with Europe decreased by $0.5 billion to $5.7 billion, led by a lower deficit with the United Kingdom. Meanwhile, the deficit with Asian countries was reduced by $0.9 billion to $3.0 billion, mainly from an improved balance with China.

The deficit on international transactions in services with the United States narrowed by $0.3 billion to $13.5 billion in 2016, a third consecutive reduction. This change mainly reflected a lower travel deficit and, to a lesser extent, a lower deficit in transportation services. This reduction was moderated by a deficit in commercial services, the first with the United States since 2010.

Canada's imports of services have historically exceeded exports of services, with persistent deficit positions vis-à-vis the United States, Mexico, Antilles and Europe.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Services balances by region
Services balances by region

  Note to readers

This is the annual release of Canada's detailed international transactions in services. This release contains details by country and service category for international transactions in services. Trade in services covers transactions in travel services, transportation services, a range of business and professional services referred to as commercial services, and government services.

The results for the 2016 reference year are preliminary and were derived from a combination of the latest 2015 benchmark surveys and 2016 quarterly surveys.


The updatedCanada and the World Statistics Hub—United Sates(Catalogue number13-609-X) is now available online. This new product illustrates the nature and the extent of Canada's economic and financial relationship with the United States using interactive graphs and tables. This product provides an easy access to information on trade, investment, employment and travel, including merchandise trade by Canadian provinces and US states.

Contact information

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; or Media Relations (613-951-4636;

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Denis Caron (613-808-2278;, International Accounts and Trade Division.

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