Canada imported US$453.1 billion worth of goods from foreign suppliers in 2019. That dollar amount represents an 8% increase compared to 2015 but a -1.5% dip from 2018 to 2019.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2019, the Canadian dollar depreciated by -3.8% against the US dollar since 2015 and dropped by -2.4% from 2018 to 2019. Canada’s weaker local currency makes its imports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively more expensive when converted starting from the Canadian loonie.
From a continental perspective, 57.6% of Canada’s total imports by value in 2019 were purchased from fellow North American nations. Asian trade partners satisfied 23.9% of imports bought by Canada while 14.3% worth originated from Europe. Smaller percentages came from Latin America (2.9%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, Africa (0.8%) and Oceania (0.5%) led by Australia and New Zealand.
Given Canada’s population of 37.5 million people, its total $453.1 billion in goods imported during 2019 translates to roughly $12,100 in yearly product demand from every person in the North American country.
Canada’s Top 10 Imports
The following product groups represent the highest dollar value in Canada’s import purchases during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each product category represents in terms of overall imports into Canada.
- Vehicles: US$74.4 billion (16.4% of total imports)
- Machinery including computers: $69.2 billion (15.3%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $44.2 billion (9.7%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $33.2 billion (7.3%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $16.4 billion (3.6%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $13.9 billion (3.1%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $12.6 billion (2.8%)
- Gems, precious metals: $10.3 billion (2.3%)
- Articles of iron or steel: $10.3 billion (2.3%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting , signs, prefab buildings: $9.2 billion (2%)
Canada’s top 10 imports accounted for almost two-thirds (64.8%) of the overall value of its product purchases from other countries.
Gems and precious metals had the fastest-growing increase in value among the top 10 import categories, up 17.3% from 2018 to 2019 propelled by gold. In second place for improving import sales was the pharmaceuticals category via its 10.7% gain. Trailing that percentage were Canadian imports of machinery including computers with a modest 0.4% increase year over year.
Leading the decliner was the mineral fuels including oil category, down -9.8% thanks largely to a slowdown in Canadian purchases of refined petroleum oils on international markets.
Note that the results listed above are at the categorized two-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. For a more detailed view of imported goods at the four-digit HTS code level, see the section Searchable List of Canada’s Most Valuable Import Products further down near the bottom of this article or under the adjacent product folder tabs.
In 2019, Canadian importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of vehicles.
- Cars: US$28.4 billion (down -5.2% from 2018)
- Automobile parts/accessories: $19.8 billion (down -1.8%)
- Trucks: $15.4 billion (up 9.9%)
- Tractors: $4 billion (down -9.9%)
- Trailers: $2.5 billion (down -11.8%)
- Armored vehicles, tanks: $1 billion (up 32.1%)
- Special purpose vehicles: $947 million (up 9.8%)
- Public-transport vehicles: $886.7 million (down -9.2%)
- Motorcycles: $524.6 million (down -1.5%)
- Bicycles, other non-motorized cycles: $252.3 million (up 4.6%)
Among these import subcategories, Canadian purchases of armored vehicles and tanks (up 32.1%), trucks (up 9.9%) then special purpose vehicles (up 9.8%) grew at the fastest pace from 2018 to 2019.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported vehicles among Canadian businesses and consumers.
In 2019, Canadian importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of machinery including computers.
- Computers, optical readers: US$9.4 billion (up 1.1% from 2018)
- Turbo-jets: $6.1 billion (up 8.6%)
- Piston engines: $4.7 billion (up 2.6%)
- Taps, valves, similar appliances: $3.6 billion (down -2.5%)
- Transmission shafts, gears, clutches: $3 billion (down -5%)
- Heavy machinery (bulldozers, excavators, road rollers): $3 billion (down -17.7%)
- Machinery parts: $2.8 billion (up 3.4%)
- Liquid pumps and elevators: $2.7 billion (up 0.6%)
- Centrifuges, filters and purifiers: $2.6 billion (up 1.9%)
- Piston engine parts: $2.2 billion (up 1%)
Among these import subcategories, Canadian purchases of turbo-jets (up 8.6%), machinery parts (up 3.4%) then piston engines (up 2.6%) grew at the fastest pace from 2018 to 2019.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported machinery among Canadian businesses and consumers.
In 2019, Canadian importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of electrical goods including consumer electronics.
- Phone system devices including smartphones: US$10.8 billion (down -2.7% from 2018)
- Insulated wire/cable: $3.5 billion (down -1.4%)
- TV receivers/monitors/projectors: $2.2 billion (down -1.2%)
- Electrical converters/power units: $2 billion (up 5%)
- Integrated circuits/microassemblies: $1.9 billion (down -11.8%)
- Lower-voltage switches, fuses: $1.9 billion (down -2%)
- Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels: $1.8 billion (down -0.1%)
- Electric motors, generators: $1.5 billion (up 12%)
- TV receiver/transmit/digital cameras: $1.5 billion (down -1.9%)
- Electric water heaters, hair dryers: $1.5 billion (up 0.7%)
Among these import subcategories, Canadian purchases of electric motors and generators (up 12%), electrical converters or power units (up 5%) then electric water heaters and hair dryers (up 0.7%) grew from 2018 to 2019.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported electrical goods among Canadian businesses and consumers.
In 2019, Canadian importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of mineral fuels-related products.
- Crude oil: US$14.3 billion (down -4.6% from 2018)
- Processed petroleum oils: $14.2 billion (down -16.1%)
- Petroleum gases: $2.6 billion (down -4.1%)
- Coal, solid fuels made from coal: $747.4 million (down -5.7%)
- Electrical energy: $439.3 million (up 11.8%)
- Petroleum oil residues: $387.4 million (down -19.1%)
- Coke, semi-coke: $235.7 million (up 10.6%)
- Petroleum jelly, mineral waxes: $171.3 million (down -8.5%)
- Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation): $112.7 million (up 2.8%)
- Natural bitumen, asphalt, shale: $75.4 million (down -14.6%)
Among these import subcategories, Canadian purchases of electrical energy (up 11.8%), coke and semi-coke (up 10.6%) then high-temperature distilled coal tar oils (up 2.8%) grew at the fastest pace from 2018 to 2019.
These amounts and the percentage gains within parenthesis clearly show where the strongest demand lies for different types of imported mineral fuels-related goods among Canadian businesses and consumers.
Searchable List of Canada’s Most Valuable Import Products
The following searchable table displays 100 of Canada’s most in-demand imported goods during 2019. Shown beside each product label is its total import value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2018.
|Rank||Canadian Import Product||2019 Value (US$)||Change|
|5||Processed petroleum oils||$14,152,813,000||-16.1%|
|6||Phone system devices including smartphones||$10,804,131,000||-2.7%|
|7||Computers, optical readers||$9,411,524,000||+1.1%|
|8||Medication mixes in dosage||$8,348,166,000||+9.2%|
|12||Blood fractions (including antisera)||$4,675,516,000||+15.5%|
|15||Taps, valves, similar appliances||$3,559,144,000||-2.5%|
|17||Seats (excluding barber/dentist chairs)||$3,533,732,000||-1.9%|
|19||Rubber tires (new)||$3,060,174,000||-3.9%|
|20||Transmission shafts, gears, clutches||$3,044,019,000||-5.0%|
|21||Heavy machinery (bulldozers, excavators, road rollers)||$3,018,319,000||-17.7%|
|23||Electro-medical equip (e.g. xrays)||$2,916,646,000||+4.0%|
|25||Liquid pumps and elevators||$2,738,854,000||+0.6%|
|26||Centrifuges, filters and purifiers||$2,609,955,000||+1.9%|
|29||Plastic packing goods, lids, caps||$2,460,614,000||+1.2%|
|31||Piston engine parts||$2,224,843,000||+1.0%|
|32||Electrical converters/power units||$2,002,190,000||+5.0%|
|33||Air or vacuum pumps||$1,960,012,000||+6.1%|
|36||Lower-voltage switches, fuses||$1,926,061,000||-2.0%|
|37||Miscellaneous plastic items||$1,857,776,000||+1.3%|
|38||Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels||$1,783,015,000||-0.1%|
|42||Precious metal waste, scrap||$1,669,771,000||+27.2%|
|43||Beauty/makeup/skin care preparations||$1,663,765,000||-1.0%|
|44||Iron and steel screws, bolts, nuts, washers||$1,658,098,000||+0.9%|
|45||Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips||$1,635,192,000||-4.1%|
|46||Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries||$1,633,525,000||+4.9%|
|47||Other food preparations||$1,611,565,000||+3.8%|
|48||Lamps, lighting, illuminated signs||$1,601,212,000||-6.0%|
|49||Jerseys, pullovers (knit or crochet)||$1,563,706,000||+5.4%|
|51||Electric motors, generators||$1,521,940,000||+12.0%|
|53||TV receiver/transmit/digital cameras||$1,510,211,000||-1.9%|
|54||Aluminum plates, sheets, strips||$1,507,283,000||-11.8%|
|55||Base metal mountings, fittings||$1,498,300,000||+1.3%|
|56||Electric water heaters, hair dryers||$1,497,912,000||+0.7%|
|58||Electrical lighting/signaling equpment, defrosters||$1,478,558,000||-5.1%|
|59||Cases, handbags, wallets||$1,476,191,000||+2.3%|
|61||Models, puzzles, miscellaneous toys||$1,408,179,000||-9.8%|
|64||Electric storage batteries||$1,332,982,000||+2.8%|
|65||Other organic cleaning preparations||$1,319,723,000||+1.2%|
|68||Miscellaneous iron or steel items||$1,246,122,000||-2.1%|
|71||Women's clothing (not knit or crochet)||$1,196,756,000||+3.7%|
|74||Table games, bowling equipment||$1,104,114,000||-10.4%|
|75||Unrecorded sound media||$1,103,322,000||-15.0%|
|77||Miscellaneous animal feed preparations||$1,084,464,000||+12.8%|
|79||Miscellaneous iron and steel structures||$1,082,542,000||-4.9%|
|80||Armored vehicles, tanks||$1,036,460,000||+32.1%|
|81||Printed books, brochures||$1,021,322,000||-4.8%|
|82||Chocolate, other cocoa preparations||$1,017,380,000||-0.3%|
|83||Miscellaneous fruits (fresh)||$1,009,289,000||+3.9%|
|84||Vulcanized rubber items||$998,725,000||-0.2%|
|86||Physical/chemical analysis tools||$990,821,000||-1.2%|
|89||Dishwashing, clean/dry/fill machines||$948,717,000||+3.5%|
|90||Special purpose vehicles||$946,981,000||+9.8%|
|91||Chemical industry products/residuals||$935,519,000||+2.5%|
|94||Flat-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products (plated/coated)||$925,806,000||-16.6%|
|95||Paper containers, cellulose wadding||$912,497,000||-0.3%|
|97||Miscellaneous preserved fruits||$908,573,000||+3.6%|
|98||Miscellaneous iron or steel tubes, pipes||$904,774,000||-22.8%|
|99||Hormones, miscellaneous steroids||$898,953,000||-1.2%|
These 100 imported goods were worth a subtotal of US$287.7 billion or close to two-thirds (63.5%) by value for all products imported into Canada during 2019.
See also Canada’s Top Trading Partners, Canada’s Top 10 Exports, Top Canadian Trade Balances and Canada’s Top 10 Major Export Companies
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Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on February 7, 2020
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (National Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on February 7, 2020
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on February 7, 2020
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on February 7, 2020