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Canada January International Merchandise Trade Report (Text)

March 09, 2012

The following is the text of Canada’s international merchandise trade report for January from Statistics Canada.

Canada’s merchandise exports declined 2.3% and imports edged down 0.6%. As a result, Canada’s trade surplus narrowed from $2.9 billion in December 2011 to $2.1 billion in January 2012. This was the third consecutive monthly trade surplus.

Exports and imports

Exports decreased to $41.4 billion in January, as prices fell 2.2%. Lower exports of precious metals and alloys as well as aircraft, engines and parts largely contributed to the decline in value. Higher exports of crude petroleum partially offset the decrease in exports.

Imports decreased to $39.3 billion in January, as six out of seven sectors posted declines. Industrial goods and materials, followed by energy products, contributed the most to the decrease. Overall, import prices fell 0.8%.

Exports to the United States edged up 0.3% to $30.6 billion in January, largely on the strength of crude petroleum. Imports from the United States declined 0.3% to $24.5 billion. Consequently, Canada’s trade surplus with the United States increased from $5.9 billion in December to $6.1 billion in January.

Exports to countries other than the United States fell 9.0% to $10.8 billion in January, mainly the result of lower exports to the European Union and Japan. Imports from countries other than the United States decreased 0.9% to $14.8 billion. Canada’s trade deficit with countries other than the United States increased from $3.0 billion in December to $4.0 billion in January.

Industrial goods and materials contribute most to exports’ decline

Exports of industrial goods and materials fell 11.9% to $9.3 billion in January as all subsectors decreased. Both prices and volumes fell 6.1%. Exports of precious metals and alloys, fertilizers and fertilizer materials, as well as copper ores, concentrates and scrap were the main contributors to the sector’s decline, a result of lower volumes.

Exports of machinery and equipment fell 11.9% to $6.6 billion as volumes fell 11.0%. A decrease of 26.1% in exports of aircraft and other transportation equipment was responsible for more than half of the sector’s decline.

Exports of energy products grew 8.7% to $11.6 billion on the strength of crude petroleum, which reached a record high of $8.2 billion in January. Petroleum and coal products, up 12.8%, also contributed to the increase. Coal and other bituminous substances partly offset the sector’s gain, falling 37.1%. The gain in the sector was the result of volumes increasing 11.0%.

Exports of automotive products, up for a fifth consecutive month, rose 6.1% to $6.2 billion. Volumes grew 8.4%. Passenger autos and chassis increased 9.3% to $4.4 billion, the highest level since January 2006.

Imports: Widespread decreases

Imports of industrial goods and materials decreased 3.8% to $8.2 billion in January, as prices declined 4.0%. Metals and metal ores led the overall decline in the sector as precious metals and alloys fell 26.2%.

Imports of energy products fell 5.9% to $4.2 billion as all subsectors posted decreases. Petroleum and coal products led the decline, mainly as a result of lower imports of aviation and diesel fuels.

Imports of machinery and equipment declined 1.7% to $10.7 billion in January. Lower imports of office machines and equipment, excavating machinery as well as other communication and related equipment contributed the most to the decrease.

The total decline in imports was partially offset by imports of automotive products, up 7.0% to $6.6 billion. This was the highest level since July 2007. Passenger autos and chassis led the increase, as volumes rose 14.4%.

Trade balance

Note: 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 balance of payments (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 will be revised with the release of the January, February, March and April 2012 reference months.

Factors influencing revisions include late receipt of import and export documentation, incorrect information on customs forms, replacement of estimates produced for the energy sector with actual figures, changes in classification of merchandise based on more current information, and changes to seasonal adjustment factors.

Revised data are available in the appropriate CANSIM tables.

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 merchandise trade data by country are available on both a BOP and a customs basis for the United States, Japan and the United Kingdom. Trade data for all other individual countries are available on a customs basis only. 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.

Data in this release are on a BOP basis, seasonally adjusted and in current dollars. Constant dollars are calculated using the Laspeyres volume formula.

Changes to the classification

Statistics Canada has reduced the number of 10-digit Harmonized Commodity Coding and Description System (HS) classification codes that are used to report the commodity detail in Canada’s merchandise import trade data. This will improve efficiency, maintain data quality and reduce response burden.

These changes are in effect as of January 2012 and coincide with the World Customs Organization 2012 amendments to the 6- digit HS classification codes as well as with Finance Canada’s changes to the 2012 Customs Tariff at the 8-digit HS codes. To obtain an HS 2012 Concordance Table, contact the International Trade Division’s Marketing and Client Services Section (

To contact the reporter on this story: Ilan Kolet in Ottawa at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Marco Babic at

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