Monthly Merchandise Trade Report

Monthly Report on Canada's International Merchandise Trade Performance, January 2020

PDF Version – June 2020 (231 KB)

Canada’s merchandise trade deficit with the world widened in January, as exports fell more than imports.

Trade Balance

  • Canada’s trade deficit with the world increased from $732 million in December to $1.5 billion in January.


  • Exports contracted 2.0% in January to reach $48.1 billion.
    • Export decreases were widespread, occurring in 9 of 11 sectors.
    • Lower exports of motor vehicles and energy products drove the overall export decrease.


  • Imports edged down 0.5% to $49.6 billion in January.
    • Import decreases were observed in 6 of 11 sectors.
    • Consumer goods posted the largest decrease. 

Chart 1: Value of Canada's trade in goods, January 2015 to January 2020

Canada-U.S. Trade in Billions of Dollars

Source: Statistics Canada Table 12-10-0011-01, Merchandise imports and exports, Balance of payments basis, seasonally adjusted.

Text Version
Merchandise exports and imports, billions of dollars
February 201443.242.6
March 201444.442.9
April 201443.743.4
May 201445.244.7
June 201445.143.5
July 201445.343.6
August 201444.843.8
September 201445.044.4
October 201445.045.2
November 201443.644.4
December 201443.544.8
January 201542.344.7
February 201542.844.6
March 201543.146.6
April 201542.945.3
May 201542.545.1
June 201544.845.3
July 201545.646.0
August 201544.846.4
September 201544.346.4
October 201543.345.8
November 201543.146.2
December 201544.546.5
January 201645.546.8
February 201643.346.5
March 201641.544.7
April 201641.544.6
May 201640.944.5
June 201641.044.9
July 201643.144.6
August 201644.245.7
September 201644.048.0
October 201644.445.7
November 201646.245.2
December 201645.945.7
January 201746.646.8
February 201745.647.0
March 201746.747.8
April 201747.248.1
May 201748.549.9
June 201745.849.3
July 201743.746.5
August 201743.946.8
September 201743.646.9
October 201744.746.1
November 201746.349.2
December 201746.749.8
January 201845.947.7
February 201846.548.8
March 201848.251.9
April 201849.050.6
May 201848.951.8
June 201850.851.6
July 201851.351.3
August 201850.751.1
September 201850.150.8
October 201850.050.6
November 201847.950.1
December 201846.251.0
January 201948.651.7
February 201948.050.9


Canadian Merchandise Exports

Canadian merchandise exports: decreased 2.0% in January, to $48.1 billion. Decreases were observed in 9 of 11 sectors.

In January 2020, exports were down 0.5% compared to January 2019.

Canadian Merchandise Imports

Canadian merchandise imports: declined 0.5% to $49.6 billion in January with decreases observed in 6 of 11 sectors.

In January 2020, imports were down 4.9% compared to January 2019.

United States:

  • Exports to the United States decreased 1.7% to $35.7 billion in January.
  • Imports from the United States were up 1.6% to $32.2 billion, the first increase in five months.
  • As a result, Canada’s merchandise trade surplus with the United States narrowed from $4.7 billion in December to $3.6 billion in January.
Table 1: Changes in Canadian Trade: monthly, year-to-date and by principal trading partners
January 2020Exports
($ millions)
% change
previous year 
($ millions)
% change
previous year 
Source: Statistics Canada Table 12-10-0011-01, Merchandise imports and exports, Balance of payments basis, seasonally adjusted, current dollars.
All Countries48,135-984-0.5%49,609-242-4.9%
% Changen.a.-2.0%n.a.n.a.-0.5%n.a.
Volume changen.a.-3.1%n.a.n.a.-0.5%n.a.
Price changen.a.1.1%n.a.n.a.0.0%n.a.
United States35,742-6272.1 32,183507-1.6
Mexico70637-14.0 1,68328-6.0
  United Kingdom1,962242-8.0608-145-26.3
South Korea339-36-33.5xxx700-3.4

Countries other than United States:

  • Exports to non-U.S. countries fell 2.8% in January.
    • There were lower exports to European countries (mainly Italy, Germany and Belgium), as well as to China.
    • Higher exports of gold to the United Kingdom and Hong Kong partially offset the decrease.

  • Imports from countries other than the United States declined 4.1% in January.
    • There were lower imports from Belgium (parts of other transportation equipment) and China (cellphones).
  • As a result, Canada’s trade deficit with countries other than the United States narrowed from $5.4 billion in December to $5.0 billion in January, the lowest deficit in more than a year. 


In January, exports contracted 2.0% to $48.1 billion as export volumes decreased 3.1%, while export prices increased 1.1%.

Export highlights:

  • Exports of motor vehicles and parts led the decrease in January (-4.1%), the lowest level since May 2018.
    • This was primarily due to lower exports of passenger cars and light trucks (-8.2%), reflecting longer temporary shutdown at certain assembly plants, as well as the recent closure of the GM plant in Oshawa.
  • Exports of energy products were down 1.7% in January:
    • Mainly on decreased exports of natural gas (-26.2%).
    • Exports of coal (-23.6%) also fell in January, on lower exports to Japan.

In January, imports edged down 0.5% to $49.6 billion as import prices remained stable and import volumes contracted 0.5%.

Import highlights:

  • Imports of consumer goods were down in January (-6.3%), mainly on lower imports of pharmaceuticals products (-26.1%).
    • Most of the decrease in January was due to lower imports of antiviral and cancer treatment drugs.
  • Imports of metal ores and non-metallic minerals increased in January (+41.9%), mainly on higher imports of gold for refining purposes. Higher gold prices played a significant role in the increase.
    • Imports of energy products rose 7.6% in January on higher imports of crude oil (+26.4%), which reached the $2.0 billion mark for the first time since 2014.
  • Imports of motor vehicles engines and parts fell (-7.1%).
Table 2: Exports and Imports by commodities – January 2020 and % change January 2019 to January 2020
January 2020
($ millions)
% change
previous year
($ millions)
% change
previous year
Resource Products25,6942.9%      15,8682.8%
  Energy9,27115.4%      3,41216.3%
Non-resource Products21,039-4.2%      31,803-9.2%
  Industrial Machinery & Equipment3,313-6.5%        5,477-8.1%
Electronic./Electric. Machin. & Equip.2,333-9.7%        5,688-6.3%
  Motor Vehicles7,259-5.1%        8,945-8.2%
  Aircrafts/Other Transportation Equip.2,277-3.1%        1,762-34.1%
  Consumer Goods5,8560.4%      9,931-6.1%
All commodities48,135-0.5%      49,609 -4.9%

Source: Statistics Canada Table 12-10-0121-01, International merchandise trade data by North American Product Classification System (NAPCS) – seasonally adjusted. Totals don’t add up as “Special transactions trade” and “Other balance of payments adjustments” are not included.