Trade can be between countries or between regions within a country and
can consist of trade in goods (aka merchandise or commodities) or
trade in services (e.g., legal services, tourism, computer programming,
etc.). Trade between
countries is termed "international" trade and, in Canada, trade between
provinces is called "interprovincial" trade.
For merchandise trade, exports are split into "domestic exports" and
"re-exports." Domestic exports include goods grown, extracted, processed
or manufactured in Canada,
including goods of foreign origin that have been materially transformed
in Canada and for which customs documents must be filed, which are
destined for foreign market(s). Re-exports are exports of goods of
foreign origin which have not been materially transformed in Canada,
including foreign goods withdrawn for export from bonded customs
warehouses. Total exports are the sum of domestic exports and
When BC Stats reports exports from the province, it generally reports
domestic exports, since this figure better reflects the performance
of the industries within the province itself. Exports including
re-exports would be the preferred figure if one were interested in
such as port activity or transportation and storage.
Merchandise imports include all goods that have crossed Canada's
territorial boundary, whether for immediate consumption in Canada or
stored in bonded customs warehouses. Imports include "re-imports", or
goods that were extracted or manufactured in Canada and were not
materially transformed elsewhere. The net of total exports minus imports
is the balance of trade. A positive balance of trade is
called a trade surplus and a negative balance is a trade deficit.
There is a great deal of detail available for international trade in
goods; however, data on trade in services and on interprovincial
trade are more sparse. Data on Canadian international exports of
merchandise are available monthly by province of origin, country of
destination, mode of transport, type of commodity, value and quantity.
Canadian import data are available monthly by country of origin,
province of clearance, mode of transport, commodity, value and quantity.
Import data by province of consumption are not available, mainly
due to the difficulty of determining the final destination of the goods.
These export and import figures are customs-based data derived
from customs documents and compiled by Statistics Canada. The
commodities are classified based on the Harmonized System, with an 8-digit code for exports and a 10-digit code for imports. Data are available
for free from Industry Canada's Trade Data Online as well as from Statistics Canada's
Canadian International Trade Database and custom data extracts are available from BC Stats for a nominal fee. Some export data are available on the Exports and Imports data page. Sub-provincial data are not available other than by port of clearance.
Data on trade in services and inter-provincial trade are not available on a Customs Basis; however there is some information in
the Economic Accounts. These data are on a Balance of Payments
basis and will differ from customs-based data (see Statistics Canada for an explanation of the differences between Balance of Payments and Customs Basis measures of international merchandise trade). Some of these data are available on the Exports and Imports page. There is very little commodity detail available on
interprovincial trade. There are some data from the Input/Output
Accounts, but it is generally two to three years out of date. Provincial
data on trade in services are also pretty scarce although there
may be data available for specific industries from Statistics Canada
surveys. Total service exports and imports by country of
are available only for Canada as a whole (see Statistics Canada CANSIM
data for international trade in goods are available for Canada from
Statistics Canada and BC Stats produces seasonally adjusted international export numbers for British Columbia.
Statistics Canada describes the valuation of exports and imports as follows:
"For Customs purposes, imports are recorded at values established according to the provisions of the Customs Act, which, since
January 1st, 1985, reflects valuation methods based on the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) Valuation Code System.
It generally requires the value for duty of imported goods be equivalent to the transaction value or the price actually paid.
"To determine the transaction value of imported goods, all transportation and associated costs arising in respect of the goods
being appraised prior to and at the place of direct shipment to Canada, are to be added to the price of the goods. Therefore,
Canadian imports are valued F.O.B. (Free on Board), place of direct shipment to Canada. It excludes freight and insurance costs
in bringing the goods to Canada from the point of direct shipment.
"To countries other than the United States, exports are, in principal,
valued or recorded at the values declared on export documents
which usually reflect the transaction value, i.e., actual selling price,
or in the case of a non-arm's length transaction, the transfer
price used for company accounting purposes. Canadian exports to overseas
countries are valued at F.O.B. port of exit, including
domestic freight charges to that point but net of discounts and
allowances. As of January, 1990, Canadian exports to the U.S. are
valued F.O.B. point of exit from Canada. Prior to 1990, they were valued
F.O.B. place of lading net of freight charges, discounts and
Note that Canada and the United States have a data sharing agreement in
which import data from the U.S. are used to determine Canadian
exports to the U.S., and similarly, Canadian import data are used to
determine American exports to Canada. The reason for this practice
is that, generally, import data are of better quality than export data,
since imports are more closely scrutinized.