Quick take

Exports on the rise despite flooding in British Columbia

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  • Canada’s total exports increased 3.8 per cent while imports were up 2.4 per cent. As a result, Canadas’ merchandise trade balance remained in a surplus for the sixth consecutive month, widening from $2.3 billion in October to $3.1 billion in November (well above consensus expectations of $2.0 billion).
  • Although supply chain issues continue to impact global trade, exports for consumer goods increased 9.0 per cent to $7.3 billion, primarily driven by exports of pharmaceutical products (+$610 million).
  • Meanwhile, shipments of pharmaceutical products drove imports of consumer goods up 5.2 per cent.
  • The largest trade surplus with the United States since January 2006 saw exports rise by 6.4 per cent, reaching a record high of $45.2 billion. Meanwhile, imports from the United States were up 4.9 per cent to reach $35.4 billion. Canada's trade surplus with the United States widened from $8.8 billion in October to $9.8 billion in November. The trade surplus was partly driven by higher trade in pharmaceutical products.

Key Insights:

  • Despite disruptions caused by flooding and landslides in British Columbia, exports and imports increased. Still, the overall growth in trade figures masks the hit British Columbia took. British Columbia’s goods exports fell by 7.8 per cent while exports from other provinces were up 11 per cent. The medium to long-term effect on British Columbia’s trade is yet to be seen and will largely depend on how swiftly the province’s infrastructure is rebuilt and is brought back up to speed.
  • Despite the trade balance growing in November, the fast-spreading Omicron variant has added further uncertainty to the trade outlook. Restrictions being placed throughout the country and in other parts of the world will put a dent in Canadian imports and exports. Once again, services trade will bear the brunt. If COVID-19 restrictions across the globe last longer than expected, Canada’s weaker exports will also bring down first quarter GDP growth. Keep in mind that a surge in exports played a big part in last year’s third quarter GDP growth.
Momanyi Mokaya

Momanyi Mokaya

Research Associate

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