Trade rebounded last year; recorded first surplus since 2008: StatsCan

By The Canadian Press  | April 04, 2012

OTTAWA - Statistics Canada says Canada's international merchandise trade bounced back in 2011 for a second consecutive year of gains after the 2009 recession.

The agency says total trade in 2011 — exports and imports combined — came within 2.0 per cent of the record levels posted in 2008.

The country's reliance on the United States as a trading partner continued to decline last year, as Asia and Europe gained ground.

While the United States remained this country's largest customer by far, the United Kingdom and China grew their shares of Canadian exports last year.

Canadian exports totalled $457.6 billion in 2011, an increase of 13 per cent from 2010, as prices rose 8.6 per cent.

Imports to Canada increased 10.3 per cent over 2010 to $456.4 billion, mainly on the strength of volumes, which were up 8.3 per cent

The trade balance went from a deficit of $9 billion in 2010 to a surplus of $1.2 billion in 2011, marking the first annual surplus since 2008.

Exports to the United States in 2011 were just below those recorded a decade earlier, while exports to the United Kingdom and China grew more than four-fold from 2002 to 2011.

Exports to the United States increased to $330.1 billion in 2011, up 10.4 per cent from 2010. Gains were led by crude petroleum exports, which rose 32.3 per cent to a record $68.4 billion.

The United States accounted for 73.7 per cent of total exports in 2011, down from 87.1 per cent in 2002.

Exports to the United Kingdom increased 14.8 per cent in 2011 to a record high of $18.8 billion.

Shipments to China amounted to $16.8 billion, up 26.9 per cent over 2010, with the highest gains in exports of iron ores and concentrates.

The data show that the United States now accounts for less than half of total imports to Canada.

Between 2002 and 2011, the share of goods imported from the United States declined to 49.5 per cent from 62.6 per cent.

China's share of imports has shown the largest gains, rising to 10.8 per cent in 2011 from 4.6 per cent in 2002.

The value of imports from the United States increased 8.6 per cent over 2010 to $220.8 billion.

China remained Canada's second-largest source of imports for the 10th consecutive year, with imports hitting $48.2 billion in 2011, up 8.1 per cent increase from 2010.