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Merchandise Trade Reconciliation Study: Canada-China, 2002 and 2003
By Sandra Bohatyretz and Bruna Santarossa, International Trade Division, Statistics Canada
China became Canada's second largest trading partner in 2003, surpassing Japan. According to Canadian-published statistics, two-way trade between Canada and the People's Republic of China increased almost five-fold in the last decade, from $4.81 billion in 1993 to $23.3 billion in 2003.
Canada's recorded merchandise trade deficit with China has increased almost eight-fold since 1993, reaching $13.8 billion in 2003.
Trade statistics produced by one country will frequently differ from those produced by its trading partner(s). In theory, for example, Canada's recorded exports to China should equal China's reported imports with Canada and vice versa. However, this is not the case.
The discrepancies between Canadian and Chinese published statistics are significant. For example, in 2002, reported Chinese import trade exceeded Canada's reported exports by $1.6 billion. The following year, the gap was $1.4 billion. Similarly, in 2002, Canadian-reported imports exceeded China's reported exports by $9.2 billion. In 2003, the gap was $10.7 billion.
Differences in official trade statistics reflect conceptual, definitional and reporting differences of the countries involved. Trade reconciliation studies identify and quantify the causes of these differences.
It is important to note that the results of the study do not constitute revisions to either country's official statistics. However, the additional information helps both nations recognize limitations of the published data, and helps to facilitate more objective policy discussion between the governments involved.