Canadian international merchandise trade

Canada’s merchandise trade deficit totalled $3.4 billion in August, widening from a $3.0 billion deficit in July. Exports decreased 1.0% on lower volumes, while imports were unchanged.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Merchandise exports and imports
Merchandise exports and imports

Chart 1: Merchandise exports and imports

Exports down for a third consecutive month

Following two months of large decreases, exports were down a further 1.0% to $43.6 billion in August—despite increases in 6 of 11 sections. Exports have fallen 10.6% since the record high posted in May. Volumes decreased 1.9% in August, while prices were up 1.0%. Consumer goods, basic and industrial chemical, plastic and rubber products, as well as metal ores and non-metallic minerals were responsible for the decline in export values. Exports excluding energy products were down 1.4%. Year over year, total exports edged down 0.2%.

Exports of consumer goods were down 3.8% to $5.7 billion in August, the third consecutive monthly decline. Pharmaceutical and medicinal products (-8.6%) led the decrease, mainly on lower exports to Italy. Prepared and packaged seafood products also contributed to the decline, down 10.5%, following the close of the snow crab fishing season at the end of July. Overall, volumes fell 2.4% and prices were down 1.4%.

Exports of basic and industrial chemical, plastic and rubber products declined 5.9% to $2.7 billion. Basic chemicals decreased 8.3% to $562 million in August, returning to June levels following increased exports of ethylene glycol to China in July.

Exports of metal ores and non-metallic minerals, down 9.7% to $1.5 billion, also contributed to the decrease. Lower exports of radioactive ores and concentrates (-75.3%) were attributable to shutdowns at uranium refining facilities in August. Overall, prices were up 14.7% while volumes were down 21.2%.

Offsetting movements in imports

Following the largest decline since January 2009 in July, total imports were virtually unchanged in August. Notable offsetting movements were observed in motor vehicles and parts (+2.5%), metal ores and non-metallic minerals (+9.9%), consumer goods (-1.8%) and aircraft and other transportation equipment and parts (-10.2%). Year over year, total imports were up 3.0%.

Imports of motor vehicles and parts rose 2.5% in August to $9.3 billion. Following a 17.9% decrease over June and July, imports of motor vehicle engines and motor vehicle parts were up 5.3% in August. This year, planned summer closures in the automotive manufacturing industry were more concentrated in the month of July compared with previous years. Overall, volumes increased 2.1% and prices were up 0.4%.

Imports of metal ores and non-metallic minerals rose 9.9% to $1.2 billion in August on higher volumes. Other metal ores and concentrates (+15.0%) were responsible for the increase, mostly on higher imports of lead. There were no imports of lead from Peru in July due to a national strike in the mining industry in that country.

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