Monthly Merchandise Trade Report

Monthly Report on Canada's International Merchandise Trade Performance, March 2016

PDF Version (231 KB)

Summary

Canadian merchandise exports fell sharply in March, declining 4.8% to $41.0 billion. The fall was widespread among sectors, with 10 of 11 major sectors seeing a decline, but geographically concentrated with the U.S. market, and to a lesser extent China. Imports also fell in March, declining 2.4% to $44.4 billion. The fall for imports was not as sharp as for exports however, which resulted in the merchandise trade deficit widening to a record $3.4 billion for the month.

Canadian Merchandise Exports

Canadian merchandise exports fell 4.8% in March as both prices and volumes declined - prices fell 2.0% while volumes were 2.9% lower. The fall in exports in March may be tied to increases in the exchange rate which moved from a monthly low of 70 cents to the US dollar in January to 76 cents to the dollar in March.

  • Aircraft and other transportation equipment was the one major sector to see exports grow in March, posting an increase of 9.0%. All other sectors witnessed a fall in exports for the month, led in percentage terms by Metal ores and minerals (down 15.6%), Agri-food (down 8.1%) and Machinery (down 7.1%). 
  • On a geographic basis, exports to the U.S. declined 6.3% to $30.4 billion - more than $2 billion lower than the previous month. Exports to China also fell sharply, declining by 11.0% to $1.8 billion. Among Canada’s top destinations, the largest percentage increases in exports were seen to South Korea (up 29.9%), the U.K. (up 28.4%) and the Netherlands (up 26.8%).
  • For the first quarter of 2016 (January to March) exports are 1.0% higher than in the first quarter of 2015 and 8.6% higher if exports of energy are excluded.

Canadian Merchandise Imports

Canadian merchandise imports fell 2.4% in March as prices declined 2.1% and volumes fell a modest 0.3%. March’s decline in imports follows a record high for monthly imports in February.

  • By sector, the picture for imports was more mixed than for exports as sharp declines in imports of Aircraft and other transport equipment (down 20.4%) and Agri-food (down 10.5%) were partially offset by increases in Metal ores and minerals (up 16.8%) and Energy (up 13.5%).
  • On the other hand, the monthly fall in imports was widespread geographically with a large absolute fall in imports from the U.S. (down $1.5 billion or 4.8%) compounded by large percentage falls witnessed by Hong Kong (17.1%), the U.K. (11.1%) and China (10.5%). Among Canada’s top trading partners, the only one to see a double-digit increase in March was imports from South Korea which increased 32.2%. 

Canada’s Merchandise Trade Balance

Canada’s merchandise trade deficit reached a record $3.4 billion in March. The narrowing of Canada’s usual surplus with the U.S., which shrank from $2.1 billion in February to $1.5 billion in March, was largely behind the increase. For the first quarter of 2016, Canada’s merchandise trade deficit stood at $6.6 billion, a modest $94 million or 1.5% higher than in the first quarter of 2015. .

Key Export Trade Statistics by Region – March 2016
Region$ billionsChange over
previous month (%)
Change over
previous year (%)
YTD 2015
$ billions
YTD change
over previous year
United States30.413-6.3-5.397.8721.6
EU3.79512.011.710.5513.2
China1.767-11.01.35.85912.5
Japan0.896-8.5-6.82.7886.9
Mexico0.690-1.24.22.0798.7
Other3.430-3.3-20.510.980-12.8
All40.990-4.8-5.1130.1291.0
Key Import Trade Statistics by Region – March 2016
Region$ billionsChange over
previous month (%)
Change over
previous year (%)
YTD 2015
$ billions
YTD change
over previous year
United States28.888-4.8-3.290.5431.3
EU4.3500.4-1.513.0053.2
China3.013-10.5-25.59.616-8.4
Japan0.8662.1-13.62.589-3.5
Mexico1.5341.61.84.569-2.9
Other5.75412.35.416.3585.5
All44.404-2.4-4.0136.6801.0
Key Trade Balance Statistics –  March 2016
Activity$ billionsChange over
previous month
Change over
previous year
YTD 2015
$ billions
YTD change
over previous
year
Exports40.990-4.8%-5.1%130.1291%
Imports44.404-2.4%-4.0%136.6801%
Trade Balance-3.414-2.468-3.074-6.551-6.457
Key Export Trade Statistics by Sector –  March 2016
Sector$ billionsChange over
previous month (%)
Change over
previous year (%)
YTD 2015
$ billions
YTD
change over
previous year
Farm, fishing and intermediate food products2.571-8.10.18.1002.8
Energy products4.346-4.3-39.114.471-35.4
Metal ores and non-metallic minerals1.289-15.6-23.94.338-10.1
Metal and non-metallic mineral products4.554-5.4-8.214.070-5.9
Basic and industrial chemical, plastic and rubber products2.829-2.3-6.98.790-0.9
Forestry products and building and packaging materials3.378-1.50.010.5146.4
Industrial machinery, equipment and parts2.514-7.1-6.38.2012.1
Electronic and electrical equipment and parts2.308-4.60.87.2525.9
Motor vehicles and parts8.062-6.017.925.77532.7
Aircraft and other transportation equipment and parts2.1289.09.35.604-10.4
Consumer goods5.900-4.67.519.40520.6
Key Import Trade Statistics by Sector –  March 2016
Sector$ billionsChange over
previous month (%)
Change over
previous year (%)
YTD 2015
$ billions
YTD
change over
previous year
Farm, fishing and intermediate food products1.347-10.5-0.84.38111.0
Energy products1.62313.5-38.35.103-34.9
Metal ores and non-metallic minerals0.95416.818.12.6794.7
Metal and non-metallic mineral products3.7601.2-9.311.403-9.0
Basic and industrial chemical, plastic and rubber products3.545-4.5-5.411.0961.0
Forestry products and building and packaging materials2.001-4.0-5.86.2341.3
Industrial machinery, equipment and parts4.362-2.7-5.413.348-3.2
Electronic and electrical equipment and parts5.274-1.3-0.415.9791.0
Motor vehicles and parts8.590-2.06.326.37511.9
Aircraft and other transportation equipment and parts1.371-20.4-25.94.795-8.4
Consumer goods9.943-4.6-1.730.6867.9
Key Rates and Indices - March 2016
TypeCurrent
month
Previous
month
Same month
previous year
Change over
previous month (%)
Change over
same month
previous year (%)
Commodity Price IndexFootnote 1333.7298.9405.211.7-17.6
Can/US Exchange Rate1.3231.3801.262-4.14.8
Trade weighted exchange rateFootnote 294.991.299.34.0-4.5
Terms of trade (2007 = 100)87.887.592.60.3-5.2
Canada-U.S. Trade in Billions of DollarsFootnote 3
MonthExportsImports
March 201630.41328.888
February 201633.13330.455
January 201635.10431.299
December 201533.86530.848
November 201532.91330.404
October 201532.37930.447
September 201533.32130.755
August 201534.15130.901
July 201535.11231.016
June 201534.22629.981
May 201532.28729.665
April 201532.34529.636
March 201531.69029.749
Canada-U.S. Trade in Billions of Dollars
Exports to the EU, China, Japan, Mexico and Others in Billions of DollarsFootnote 4
MonthExports to EUExports to ChinaExports to JapanExports to MexicoExports to Others
March 20163.7951.7670.8960.6903.430
February 20163.3481.9930.9780.6923.531
January 20163.3632.0980.9240.6764.014
December 20153.4781.8160.9290.6954.500
November 20153.2991.8130.9650.6703.928
October 20153.6331.7290.7450.6144.234
September 20153.2161.7490.8340.6544.219
August 20152.7461.8850.8550.7524.125
July 20153.3761.9640.8280.7123.918
June 20153.4571.7460.8390.6323.779
May 20153.0461.6060.7630.6794.100
April 20153.0131.9910.7610.6043.859
March 20153.3751.7010.9500.6604.239
Exports to the EU, China, Japan, Mexico and Others in Billions of Dollars
Exchange Rate Indices
MonthUS
dollar
Chinese
renminbi
EuroJapanese
yen
Mexican
peso
March 201695.499.592.789.5110.4
February 201691.596.189.287.0110.6
January 201688.793.588.487.1105.2
December 201592.195.291.593.0103.1
November 201595.097.195.996.8103.7
October 201596.598.393.096.2105.0
September 201595.197.191.694.9105.1
August 201596.097.693.298.0104.3
July 201598.197.696.5100.4102.7
June 2015102.0101.598.3104.9103.7
May 2015103.6103.0100.5104.0103.9
April 2015102.3101.8102.4101.6102.2
March 2015100.0100.0100.0100.0100.0
Exchange Rate Indices
Commodity
Price Indices
Footnote 5
MonthTotal, all
commodities
Total
excl. energy
EnergyForestryAgriculture
March 201682.489.275.597.982.6
February 201673.886.461.591.980.2
January 201674.684.564.991.978.8
December 201579.784.675.292.079.0
November 201587.188.086.392.684.7
October 201591.790.293.292.586.9
September 201592.390.294.490.689.2
August 201590.193.187.495.594.8
July 2015101.998.0106.099.9100.8
June 2015112.0100.1124.898.3102.7
May 2015112.2100.2125.293.4101.1
April 2015105.799.3112.395.798.7
March 2015100.0100.0100.0100.0100.0
Commodity Price Indices

Footnotes

Footnote 1

Bank of Canada commodity price index: a chain Fisher price index of the US dollar prices of 24 commodities produced in Canada and sold in world markets, with weights updated on an annual basis.

Return to footnote 1 referrer

Footnote 2

Canadian dollar effective exchange rate index: a Bank of Canada trade-weighted index which measures the value of the Canadian dollar vis-à-vis the currencies of its most important trading partners. 

Return to footnote 2 referrer

Footnote 3

 The time series trade data do not include revisions to the historical figures.

Return to footnote 3 referrer

Footnote 4

The time series trade data do not include revisions to the historical figures.

Return to footnote 4 referrer

Footnote 5

Bank of Canada commodity price index, see previous page for details.

Return to footnote 5 referrer