Canadian International Merchandise Trade (Balance of Payments Basis)

Detailed information for February 2024





Record number:


Purpose: To provide statistical information and analysis of the value of Canada's balance of payments-basis merchandise exports and imports by commodity and partner country.

Data release - April 4, 2024


This activity consists of adjusting the values of Canada's imports and exports from the customs basis to the balance of payments basis.

Information on imports and exports are inputs into the Canadian Macroeconomic Accounts, particularly in the Balance of Payments and Gross Domestic Product, and are used in the formulation of trade and economic policies. Governments, importers, exporters, manufacturers and shipping companies use trade statistics to monitor import penetration and export performance, identify market opportunities, monitor commodity price and volume changes, and examine transport implications of trade flows.

Statistical activity

The Canadian System of Macroeconomic Accounts provides a conceptually integrated statistical framework for studying the state and behaviour of the Canadian economy. The accounts are centered on the measurement of activities associated with the production of goods and services and the sale of goods and services in final markets as well as supporting financial transactions and resulting wealth positions.

This activity is part of the Canadian International Merchandise Trade (CIMT) Program. While the objective of the customs-basis data is to measure the change in the stock of material resources of Canada resulting from the movement of merchandise into or out of the country, the primary objective of this statistical program is to measure the economic transactions that involve merchandise trade between residents and non-residents.

The closing of the statistical month for imports and exports is defined as the last calendar day of the month based on the date of clearance from Customs. Documents received too late for incorporation in the current month are assigned to the month the transaction took place and are published as revisions the following statistical month.

Additional information about the CIMT Program is available through the link that follows.

Reference period: Month

Collection period: Calendar month


  • Balance of international payments
  • Economic accounts
  • International trade
  • Merchandise exports
  • Merchandise imports

Data sources and methodology

Target population

Canadian merchandise imports and exports.

Instrument design

This methodology does not apply.


The administrative data collected in this program are a census. Data are collected for all units of the target population, therefore no sampling is done.

Data sources

Data are collected from other Statistics Canada surveys and/or other sources.

The administrative data are sourced from the CIMT Program at Statistics Canada, the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA), the United States Census Bureau (USCB) and the Canada Energy Regulator and are compiled by the CIMT Program. For more information on the methodology for the compilation of these data, please see 2201 - Canadian International Merchandise Trade (Customs Basis). Additional inputs are sourced from other Statistics Canada programs.

Import and export values are disseminated in Canadian dollars and can require conversion from reported currencies. Foreign currencies are converted using the Bank of Canada monthly average based on the daily end-of-day rates.

For data for Canada's exports to the United States, imports must be reported to the US Customs and Border Protection in US dollars for accounting. In turn, these data (in US dollars) are transmitted to the USCB which converts them to Canadian dollars prior to transmission to Statistics Canada.

Adjustments are applied to customs-basis merchandise trade data at aggregate levels (by NAPCS group and principal trading partner) by the Canada's Balance of International Payments Program (Record number 1534) to account for freight, changes of ownership, country of last shipment, prices and quantities of energy trade, and undercoverage. The major difference between customs and balance of payments concepts is that customs-basis data reflect trade crossing from one economic territory to another whereas balance of payments-basis data reflect changes of ownership between residents and non-residents of Canada.

In the compilation of balance of payments-basis crude oil export statistics, customs-basis values are replaced by data from other sources, which are deemed to more accurately reflect the timing of export shipments. Balance of payments-basis values are calculated by using weighted average monthly export prices from the Canada Energy Regulator (CER), freight information from publicly available sources and Statistics Canada's Canadian Freight Analysis Framework (CFAF), and volume information compiled from Statistics Canada pipeline surveys and customs documentation.

Error detection

Data are validated by the Canada's Balance of International Payments Program.


This methodology does not apply.


Export data for natural gas and electricity are estimated for the current month as this information is not received from Customs sources. Adjustments are also made to the customs-basis trade data to account for freight, changes of ownership, country of last shipment, and undercoverage.

For the current month, crude oil export volumes and prices are also estimated, as Customs source data for balance of payments-basis crude oil statistics are not received.

Quality evaluation

Automated checks are performed to ensure the proper application of balance of payment adjustments to commodity groups and principal trading partners.

Time series are reviewed for possible errors.

The models used to seasonally adjust the monthly data are reviewed annually by the Economic Statistics Methods Division of Statistics Canada.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects which could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

The CIMT Program of Statistics Canada is similar to the statistical programs of most other countries in its use of administrative data derived from Customs sources to produce merchandise trade data and its use of the 'passive suppression' approach for confidentiality. Passive suppression requires that appropriate measures be taken only at the request of importers or exporters who feel that their interests would be harmed by the dissemination of data. The onus of notifying the CIMT Program of suspected instances of the release of confidential data rests with the affected companies. After receiving and reviewing such requests, data are suppressed, if necessary, to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

Balance of payments-basis merchandise trade data are revised on an ongoing basis for each month of the current year. The previous year's data are revised with the release of the January, February, March and April reference months. To remain consistent with the Canadian System of Macroeconomic Accounts, revisions to data for previous years are released annually in December with the October reference month.

Factors influencing revisions include late receipt of import and export documentation, incorrect information on Customs forms, replacement of estimates with actual data, changes in classification of merchandise based on more current information, and changes to seasonal adjustment factors.

Revised data are available in the appropriate published data tables and statistical products.

Data accuracy

The administrative data used to compile trade statistics are considered to be complete and accurate. Any anomalies or inconsistencies detected are verified with the source, and where necessary, adjustments are made to reconcile data with the conceptual framework of the series.

It is not unusual for the accuracy of export statistics to be adversely affected by undercoverage and/or country misallocation. Country misallocation occurs when the country of final destination is inaccurately reported on the Customs documentation. This occurs most frequently when goods are routed through an intermediary country before continuing to their final destination with the intermediary country being reported as the final destination of the goods.

Data response error or non-response error may be possible where survey data are used to supplement the administrative data. Data response error may be due to questionnaire design, the characteristics of a question, the inability or unwillingness of the respondent to provide correct information, misinterpretation of the questions, or definitional problems. Non-response error is related to respondents that may refuse to answer, are unable to respond or are too late in reporting. In these cases, data are imputed. The extent of any imputation error decreases with increases in the response rate and attempts are therefore made to obtain as high a response rate as possible.

In certain cases, estimates are produced and included in the publication of current month data and are subsequently replaced with actual data when they become available. The methodology and data sources for producing monthly estimates are reviewed regularly and updated when necessary.

Several processes are in place to assess the accuracy and consistency of the data, including values, volumes and prices, at various stages of data processing. These processes are completed on a monthly basis and include review of the current month data as well as revisions to previous month data.


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