Canada’s merchandise trade with Belgium

Christian Sivière, Solimpex Montréal and Ottawa    ©August 2019

Canada’s merchandise trade balance with the world remained positive in June, posting a
$136 million surplus, following the near-record surplus of $556 million in May, with exports
down 5.1% and imports down 4.3%.

Total Canadian exports decreased to $50.3 billion, more than offsetting the strong gains
observed in May. There were widespread decreases throughout the product sections, with exports of energy products down 7.4% and non-energy products down 4.4%.

Geographically, Canada’s exports to the United States were down 3.9%, mainly due to
lower exports of crude oil. Exports to other countries fell 8.4%, in part due to lower exports to Hong Kong (gold) and Saudi Arabia (transportation equipment), which were partially offset by higher exports to the United Kingdom (gold).

Overall Canadian imports came to $50.2 billion, the lowest level since November 2018, with decreases observed in most product sections. Canadian imports from the United States declined 3.8%, while imports from other countries were down 5.2%, with lower imports from Germany (cars), Saudi Arabia (crude oil) and Mexico (various products) contributing the most to the widespread decrease.

As these figures vary substantially from month to month, due to exchange rate fluctuations, seasonal variations and large one-time contracts, let us look at the big picture and at the main commodities that were traded between Canada and Belgium in 2018.

Merchandise exports from Canada to Belgium totalled $3.647 billion in 2018, compared to $3.348 billion in 2017 and the ten top commodities exported were:

-Precious or semi-precious stones, precious metals, metals clad with precious metal and
articles thereof: $1.28 billion, representing 35% of total exports;
-Products of the chemical and allied industries: $664 million;
-Mineral products: $483 million;
-Base metals and articles of base metals: $403 million;
-Vehicles, aircraft, vessels and associated transport equipment: $267 million;
-Vegetable products: $142 million;
-Machinery and mechanical appliances; electrical equipment and parts: $129 million;
-Plastics, rubber and articles thereof: $71 million;
-Live animals and animal products: $49 million;
-Wood and articles of wood: $46 million.

Merchandise imported by Canada from Belgium reached $4.448 billion in 2018, compared to $3.171 billion in 2017, a 40% increase, likely triggered by the CETA Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and Canada, and the ten top commodities imported were:

-Products of the chemical and allied industries: $1.877 billion;
-Vehicles, aircraft, vessels and associated transport equipment: $762 million;
-Mineral products: $550 million;
-Machinery and mechanical appliances; electrical equipment and parts: $351 million;
-Prepared foodstuffs; beverages and spirits; tobacco: $262 million;
-Works of art, collector’s pieces and antiques: $144 million;
-Base metals and articles of base metals: $127 million;
-Plastics, rubber and articles thereof: $104 million;
-Precious or semi-precious stones, precious metals, metals clad with precious metal and
articles thereof: $78 million;
-Textiles and textile articles: $50 million.

As we can see from the above, products traded between Canada and Belgium are diversified and volumes rising. Belgian exporters have clearly been faster than Canadian exporters to take advantage of the CETA Free Trade Agreement, provisionally in effect since September 2017. It will be interesting to see the evolution of our bilateral trade in the months ahead.

Christian Sivière, Solimpex Montréal and Ottawa    ©August 2019

Source: Statistics Canada