Quick take

Imports and Exports Reach Record Highs

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  • Canada’s total exports rose 6.3 per cent while imports followed a similar trend rising by 7.7 per cent in March. As a result, Canada’s merchandise trade surplus narrowed from $3.1 billion in February to $2.5 billion in March.
  • Exports increased by 6.3 per cent to a record $63.6 billion, surpassing the previous record set in February by nearly $4 billion. Exports of energy products rose by 12.8 per cent to a record $17.9 billion in March. Energy products accounted for 28.2 per cent of total exports, an increase of almost 10 percentage points from the share of 18.3 per cent observed in March 2021.
  • Total imports rose 7.7 per cent to a record high of $61.1 billion in March. Imports of energy products posted significant gains in March, rising 26.3 per cent. Higher imports of crude oil and bitumen (+39.9 per cent) were primarily behind the increase, with prices and volumes rising markedly.
  • Exports to the United States continued to rise this month, with an increase of 7.7 per cent in March, driven mainly by higher crude exports. In contrast, imports edged up 5.4 per cent, primarily because of higher imports of energy products and vehicle parts. As a result, Canada’s trade surplus with the United States widened from $10.9 billion in February to  a record $12.6 billion in March.

Key Insights:

  • Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has shown up in trade numbers. Total trade (exports plus imports) with Russia was $2.8 billion in 2021, representing 0.2 per cent of Canadian trade activity. Meanwhile, total trade with Ukraine in 2021 was $447 million. Therefore, the direct impact of the trade sanctions imposed on Russia should be minimal for Canadian merchandise trade values. Still, demand for Canada’s exports has risen since Canada produces a lot of what Russia does (natural gas, grains, crude oil, metals, fertilizer, lumber etc.). Therefore, Canada’s export values are indirectly being affected by higher demand. Canada’s exports are also being impacted through higher prices which have jumped due to the conflict.
  • Recent Omicron outbreaks in China are further disrupting supply chains. Due to the Chinese government’s zero-COVID stance, widespread mobility restrictions in major cities are weighing on household consumption and will further disrupt supply chains in the near term. With China’s unmatched role in global trade and as a key manufacturing hub, we are likely to feel some downstream effects on supply chains in the coming months. Needless to say, supply chain disruptions are far from over.

Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Access the latest insights

Momanyi Mokaya

Momanyi Mokaya

Research Associate

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