Canada’s merchandise trade balance with the world recorded its first trade surplus since September 2014, moving from a $1.0 billion deficit in October to a $526 million surplus in November. Exports were up 4.3%, on the strength of increased exports of metal and non-metallic mineral products as well as record exports to countries other than the United States. Imports were up 0.7%, mainly on higher imports of energy products.
Exports to countries other than the United States reach a record high
Exports to countries other than the United States rose 9.5% to a record $12.0 billion in November, surpassing the previous record set in December 2011. This was also the largest monthly percentage increase since May 2008. Exports to China were up 11.1% to $2.0 billion in November, mostly on higher exports of coal. Exports to South Korea, Brazil and Japan also increased in November.
Imports from countries other than the United States were up 3.5% to $15.6 billion in November. This increase was largely led by higher imports of crude oil from Norway, Algeria and Saudi Arabia. Lower imports from China partially offset these gains. Consequently, Canada’s trade deficit with countries other than the United States narrowed from $4.2 billion in October to $3.7 billion in November, the smallest deficit since November 2014.
Exports to the United States also rose in November, up 2.5% to $33.7 billion, while imports from the United States were down 0.7% to $29.5 billion. Consequently, Canada’s trade surplus with the United States widened from $3.2 billion in October to $4.2 billion in November, the largest surplus since June 2015.
Widespread increases in exports
Exports increased 4.3% to $45.6 billion in November, the highest level since the record $45.7 billion in January 2016. Export volumes rose 3.5% and prices were up 0.8%. Overall, 10 of 11 sections increased, a first since May 2014. In November, exports excluding energy products were up 4.7%. Year over year, total exports increased 5.2%.
Exports of metal and non-metallic mineral products increased 10.6% to $5.3 billion in November, the highest value since December 2014. Exports of unwrought precious metals and precious metal alloys led the gain, up 24.3% to $1.9 billion on larger shipments to Hong Kong and Switzerland. For the section as a whole, volumes rose 6.2% and prices 4.1%.
Exports of metal ores and non-metallic minerals rose 26.4% to $1.7 billion in November, with widespread increases throughout the section. Exports of potash increased 38.3% to $431 million on higher volumes. Exports of iron ores and concentrates also contributed to the gain, up 43.0% to $396 million, as prices rose 25.7%. Overall, volumes increased 15.0% and prices were up 9.9%.
Farm, fishing and intermediate food products also contributed to the gain in November, up 8.0% to $2.8 billion, mainly on higher volumes. Exports of canola were up 37.5% to $480 million, mostly due to higher exports to Pakistan.
Exports of aircraft and other transportation equipment and parts also rose in November, up 7.7% to $2.0 billion. After declining 33.4% in October, exports of aircraft increased 76.2% to $820 million. This gain was moderated by lower exports of boats and other personal transportation equipment, after increasing by $162 million in October on higher exports to Saudi Arabia.
Energy products lead the increase in imports
Total imports were up 0.7% to $45.1 billion in November, with 7 of 11 sections recording gains. Prices increased 1.0%, while volumes were down 0.3%. Higher imports of energy products and consumer goods were mostly offset by lower imports of aircraft and other transportation equipment and parts, and motor vehicles and parts. Year over year, total imports declined 0.8%.
After three consecutive monthly decreases, imports of energy products increased 18.2% to $2.4 billion in November. Imports of crude oil and crude bitumen were up 62.3% to $1.3 billion. This gain was moderated by lower imports of refined petroleum energy products, down 12.5% to $747 million in November. The increase in imports of crude oil and the decline in refined petroleum energy products coincided with increased refining activity in Eastern Canadian refineries in November, following scheduled maintenance in October. For the section as a whole, volumes rose 12.9% and prices were up 4.7%.
The increase was partially offset by lower imports of aircraft and other transportation equipment and parts, down 17.2% to $1.2 billion in November, the lowest level since July 2013. There were lower imports of aircraft, down $157 million to $48 million, mostly on fewer imports from the United States.
Increase in real exports
In real (or volume) terms, exports were up 3.5% in November as a result of widespread increases among the sections. Import volumes decreased 0.3%, led by lower real imports of motor vehicles and parts. Consequently, Canada’s trade surplus with the world in real terms widened from $1.3 billion in October to $2.8 billion in November.
Revisions to October imports and exports
Revisions reflected initial estimates being updated with or replaced by administrative and survey data as they became available, and amendments made for late documentation of high-value transactions. Imports in October, originally reported as $44.7 billion in last month’s release, were revised to $44.8 billion with the current month’s release. Exports, originally reported as $43.6 billion in last month’s release, were revised to $43.7 billion.