Canada’s Top 10 Exports

Canada's Top 10 Exports


Nicknamed the Great White North, Canada exported a total US$449.8 billion worth of products around the globe in 2018. That dollar amount reflects a -5.3% drop since 2014 but a 6.9% gain from 2017 to 2018.

Based on estimates from the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, Canada’s exported goods plus services represent 30.9% of total Canadian economic output or Gross Domestic Product. That percentage includes re-export activity. The analysis below focuses on exported products only.

From a continental perspective, 76.5% of Canadian exports by value were delivered to its North American trade partners namely the United States and Mexico. Asian importers purchased 12.4% worth while buyers in Europe consumed 8.5%. Smaller percentages were delivered to Latin America (1.4%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, Africa (0.7%) and Oceania (0.5%) led by Australia and New Zealand.

Given Canada’s population of 35.9 million people, its total $449.8 billion in 2018 exports translates to roughly $12,500 for every resident in that country.

In macroeconomic terms, Canada’s total exported goods represent 24.5% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2018 ($1.837 trillion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 24.5% for exports to overall GDP per PPP in 2018 compares to 27.8% for 2014, seeming to indicate a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Canada’s total economic performance.

Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Canada’s unemployment rate was 5.8% as of February 2019 according to Trading Economics, up from 5.6% in November 2018.

Canada’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Canadian global shipments during 2018. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Canada.

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: US$98.8 billion (22% of total exports)
  2. Vehicles: $60.5 billion (13.5%)
  3. Machinery including computers: $34.5 billion (7.7%)
  4. Gems, precious metals: $18 billion (4%)
  5. Wood: $14.3 billion (3.2%)
  6. Plastics, plastic articles: $13.6 billion (3%)
  7. Electrical machinery, equipment: $13.4 billion (3%)
  8. Aircraft, spacecraft: $10.6 billion (2.4%)
  9. Aluminum: $10 billion (2.2%)
  10. Paper, paper items: $8 billion (1.8%)

Canada’s top 10 exports accounted for nearly two-thirds (62.6%) of the overall value of Canadian global shipments.

Mineral fuels including oil was the fastest-grower among Canada’s top 10 export categories, up 16.9% from 2017 to 2018 propelled by improved sales of both crude and refined petroleum oils as well as coal.

In second place for improving export sales was paper and items made from paper thanks to a 10.6% gain.

The plastics and items made from plastics category posted the third-fastest gain up 8.2%.

Two top categories depreciated year over year. Canadian exported vehicles fell -3% while gems and precious metals dropped -1%, the latter product category was weighed down by setbacks in exported gold, silver and diamonds.

Note that the results listed above are at the categorized two-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. For a more granular view of exported goods at the four-digit HTS code level, see the section Searchable List of Canada’s Most Valuable Export Products further down near the bottom of this article.


The following types of Canadian product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.

In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: US$62.8 billion (Up by 14.4% since 2017)
  2. Wood: $11.2 billion (Up by 1%)
  3. Gems, precious metals: $9.2 billion (Up by 8.7%)
  4. Woodpulp: $7.1 billion (Up by 18.2%)
  5. Oil seeds: $6.4 billion (Down by -7.6%)
  6. Cereals: $6.2 billion (Up by 11.8%)
  7. Aluminum: $5.5 billion (Down by -6.8%)
  8. Ores, slag, ash: $4.6 billion (Up by 22.2%)
  9. Fertilizers: $4.1 billion (Up by 23.7%)
  10. Meat: $3.2 billion (Up by 5.4%)

Canada has highly positive net exports in the international trade of crude oil, petroleum gas, coal and electricity. The positive cashflows indicate Canada’s strong competitive advantages under the mineral fuels-related category.


Overall Canada incurred a -$9.1 billion trade deficit for 2018, down by -22.8% from the -$11.8 billion in red ink one year earlier.

Below are exports from Canada that are negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Canada’s goods trail Canadian importer spending on foreign products.

  1. Machinery including computers: -US$34.3 billion (Up by 10.5% since 2017)
  2. Electrical machinery, equipment: -$31.5 billion (Up by 5.4%)
  3. Vehicles: -$14.9 billion (Up by 27.1%)
  4. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$5.5 billion (Down by -1.6%)
  5. Articles of iron or steel: -$5.4 billion (Up by 10.8%)
  6. Pharmaceuticals: -$4.6 billion (Down by -14.1%)
  7. Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: -$4.6 billion (Up by 3.7%)
  8. Fruits, nuts: -$4.1 billion (Up by 0.5%)
  9. Beverages, spirits, vinegar: -$4 billion (Up by 0.3%)
  10. Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): -$3.7 billion (Up by 3.4%)

Canada has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for products including computers spanning myriad types and sizes. Red ink under the machinery including computer category also encompasses bulldozers and similar heavy construction equipment.

These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Canada’s competitive disadvantages in the international machinery market including computer-related goods, but also represent key opportunities for Canada to improve its position in the global economy through targeted innovations.


Canadian Export Companies

Wikipedia lists many of the larger international trade players from Canada:

  • Barrick Gold (diversified metals, mining)
  • Bombardier Inc. (aerospace, transit vehicles)
  • Cameco (uranium)
  • Canadian Natural Resources (oil, gas)
  • Encana (oil, gas)
  • Magna International (automotive parts)
  • Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (specialized chemicals)
  • Saputo (dairy products)
  • Suncor Energy (oil, gas)

According to global trade intelligence firm Zepol, the following smaller companies are also examples of leading Canadian exporters:

  • Interex Forest Products (wood, strand board)
  • West Fraser Mills (wood, chemical woodpulp)
  • Weyerhaeuser (wood, chemical woodpulp)


Searchable List of Canada’s Most Valuable Export Products

At the more granular four-digit HTS code level, Canada’s top export products are crude oil followed by cars then gold.

The following searchable table displays 200 of the most in-demand goods shipped from Canada during 2018. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2017.

RankCanada's Export Product2018 Value (US$)Change
1Crude oil$66.9 billion+23.8%
2Cars$41 billion-11.8%
3Gold (unwrought)$12.3 billion-7.1%
4Processed petroleum oils$12.2 billion+7.7%
5Automobile parts/accessories$11.4 billion+8%
6Petroleum gases$9.7 billion-4.8%
7Sawn wood$8.2 billion-1.2%
8Medication mixes in dosage$6.7 billion+29.8%
9Turbo-jets$6.6 billion+11.8%
10Aircraft, spacecraft$6.5 billion+6.2%
11Aluminum (unwrought)$6.5 billion+1.9%
12Coal, solid fuels made from coal$5.8 billion+11.2%
13Wheat$5.7 billion+12%
14Chemical woodpulp (non-dissolving)$5.4 billion+21.8%
15Potassic fertilizers$4.9 billion+26%
16Ethylene polymers$4.6 billion+14.6%
17Rape/colza seeds$4.5 billion-11.9%
18Iron ores, concentrates$4.1 billion+16.6%
19Trucks$4 billion+76%
20Aircraft parts$3.2 billion+2.5%
21Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries$2.8 billion+15.5%
22Copper ores, concentrates$2.8 billion+2.6%
23Miscellaneous furniture$2.8 billion-0.4%
24Crustaceans (including lobsters)$2.8 billion-0.4%
25Rape/colza/mustard oil$2.7 billion+3.6%
26Swine meat$2.4 billion-3.9%
27Piston engines$2.4 billion+3.8%
28Electrical energy$2.3 billion-0.1%
29Soya beans$2.2 billion+14.8%
30Dried shelled vegetables$2.1 billion-21.7%
31Diamonds (unmounted/unset)$2.1 billion-5.6%
32Particle board, other ligneous materials$2 billion+10.3%
33Phone system devices including smartphones$2 billion+3.6%
34Machinery parts$1.9 billion+12.2%
35Plastic packing goods, lids, caps$1.9 billion+5.2%
36Iron or steel scrap$1.8 billion+24.8%
37Zinc (unwrought)$1.8 billion+33.4%
38Newsprint (rolls or sheets)$1.8 billion+14.6%
39Seats (excluding barber/dentist chairs)$1.7 billion+2.5%
40Rubber tires (new)$1.7 billion+0.4%
41Nickel (unwrought)$1.6 billion+13.5%
42Liquid pumps and elevators$1.6 billion+4.5%
43Computers, optical readers$1.5 billion+4.8%
44Fresh or chilled beef$1.5 billion+17.7%
45Uncoated paper for writing/printing$1.5 billion+16.4%
46Miscellaneous machinery$1.5 billion+13%
47Chocolate, other cocoa preparations$1.4 billion-2.5%
48Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips$1.4 billion+5.8%
49Miscellaneous oil cakes$1.4 billion+13.7%
50Transmission shafts, gears, clutches$1.3 billion+1.4%
51Acyclic alcohols$1.3 billion+2.1%
52Beauty/makeup/skin care preparations$1.3 billion+15.4%
53Radioactive chemical elements$1.3 billion+4.9%
54Miscellaneous plastic items$1.3 billion+4.6%
55Moulding boxes/base$1.3 billion+2.1%
56Armored vehicles, tanks$1.3 billion+95.6%
57Miscellaneous iron and steel structures$1.3 billion+10.3%
58Hot-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products$1.3 billion+26.6%
59Semi-chemical woodpulp$1.3 billion+14.4%
60Refined copper, unwrought alloys$1.2 billion-11.9%
61Centrifuges, filters and purifiers$1.2 billion+14%
62Wood carpentry, builders' joinery$1.2 billion-0.5%
63Petroleum oil residues$1.1 billion+35%
64TV receiver/transmit/digital cameras$1.1 billion+6.8%
65Lifting/loading machinery$1.1 billion+15.5%
66Copper wire$1.1 billion+42.1%
67Other food preparations$1.1 billion+12.2%
68Other prepared/preserved vegetables (frozen)$1.1 billion+9.2%
69Piston engine parts$1.1 billion+2.7%
70Nickel matte, oxide sinters$1.1 billion+7.4%
71Taps, valves, similar appliances$1.1 billion+6.7%
72Acyclic hydrocarbons$1.1 billion+58.4%
73Electro-medical equipment (e.g. xrays)$1.1 billion+6.5%
74Other measuring/testing machines$1 billion-6.7%
75Integrated circuits/microassemblies$1 billion+12.8%
76Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels$1 billion+3.2%
77Base metal mountings, fittings$993.3 million+11.6%
78Electrical converters/power units$981.2 million+4%
79Precious metal waste, scrap$975.6 million+17.4%
80Flat-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products (plated/coated)$971.2 million+5%
81Aircraft launch gear, ground fly trainer$921.4 million+28.9%
82Paper containers, cellulose wadding$902 million+4.9%
83Aluminum waste, scrap$893.3 million+9.6%
84Fork-lift trucks$881.1 million+12%
85Miscellaneous iron or steel tubes, pipes$878.2 million-11.4%
86Cyclic hydrocarbons$873.2 million+9.2%
87Silver (unwrought)$870.5 million-20.3%
88Rubber/plastic article making machines$864.7 million-5.6%
89Insulated wire/cable$856.7 million+5.6%
90Miscellaneous iron or steel items$851.2 million+14.5%
91Temperature-change machines$849 million+0.8%
92Lamps, lighting, illuminated signs$848.4 million-1.5%
93Whole fish (fresh)$832.1 million+4.3%
94Live bovine cattle$817 million-7.4%
95Miscellaneous animal feed preparations$770.7 million+1.9%
96Copper waste, scrap$763.3 million+3.2%
97Blood fractions (including antisera)$752.2 million-3.2%
98Electrical machinery$749.8 million+3.9%
99Uncoated paper$746.5 million+26.7%
100Regulate/control instruments$732.4 million-1.2%
101Coins$711.6 million+1,644%
102Physical/chemical analysis tools$710 million+17%
103Uncoated kraft paper$705.5 million+8.2%
104Rough wood$684.1 million-5%
105Public-transport vehicles$662.1 million+1.2%
106Air or vacuum pumps$639.2 million+11.3%
107Miscellaneous fresh/chilled vegetables$638.4 million+14.6%
108Cobalt$630.3 million+44.4%
109Miscellaneous engines, motors$628.6 million+14.3%
110Bridge structures, parts$626.9 million-2.3%
111Coated paper$618.6 million+9.5%
112Sanitary towels, baby napkins/liners$615.4 million+4.9%
113Vulcanized rubber items$594.8 million+7.5%
114Lead (unwrought)$588 million-4%
115 Dishwashing, clean/dry/fill machines $587.4 million+18.4%
116Plastic builders' items$577.4 million+7.2%
117Flat-rolled other alloy steel products$575.4 million+27.3%
118Other diagnostic/lab reagents$575.4 million+9.1%
119Chemical industry products/residuals$574.4 million+13.9%
120Liquid crystal/laser/optical tools$573.7 million+28.9%
121Trailers$564.4 million+22%
122Radar, radio communication items$557.5 million+7.7%
123Air conditioners$551.1 million+17%
124Aluminum plates, sheets, strips$549.7 million+1.6%
125Agriculture/poultry/bee-keeping machines$544.2 million+16.7%
126Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips$537.4 million+3.6%
127Hydraulic cements$536.6 million+20.8%
128Sugar confectionery (no cocoa)$535 million+1.4%
129Aluminum wire$528.7 million+8.4%
130Barley$527.2 million+28.8%
131Harvest/threshing machinery$520.7 million+23.9%
132Tissues, napkins, toilet paper$512.4 million+0.3%
133Plastic tubes, pipes, fittings$509.9 million+18%
134Flour/meal/starch/malt extract food preparations$507.5 million+7.4%
135Survey/hydro/weather instruments$505.3 million+13.9%
136Coffee$504.7 million-18.3%
137Interchangeable hand/machine tools$499.1 million+5.2%
138Computer parts, accessories$484.7 million-12.1%
139Iron and steel screws, bolts, nuts, washers$484 million+9.7%
140Metal-containing ash, residues$478.5 million+12.9%
141Chemical woodpulp (dissolving)$477.7 million+19.8%
142TV/radio/radar device parts$475.1 million-4.7%
143Nitrogenous fertilizers$474.3 million-8%
144Miscellaneous preserved fruits$470 million+7%
145Cellulose fiber paper$468.9 million-4.7%
146Oscilloscopes, spectrum analyzers$468.6 million+10.7%
147Aluminum bars/rods$453.7 million-1.2%
148Fuel wood, wood chips, sawdust$452.5 million+18.4%
149Alcohol (including spirits, liqueurs)$448.8 million+5.5%
150Polyacetal/ether/carbonates$440.2 million+3%
151Soil preparation/cultivation machinery$434.2 million+19.4%
152Other precious metal items$421.6 million+70.8%
153Special purpose vehicles$420.8 million+49.2%
154Automobile bodies$419.7 million+27.5%
155Tomatoes$411.7 million-0.6%
156Ammonia$411.5 million-13.8%
157Hair preparations$410 million+16%
158Alloy steel bars, rods$407.5 million-3.8%
159Corn$406.3 million+31%
160Lower-voltage switches, fuses$403.7 million+11.1%
161Solid-form sugars, fructose, glucose, lactose$402.5 million+4.3%
162Miscellaneous printed matter$402.4 million-2%
163Tractors$400.8 million+0.7%
164Iron ferroalloys$398.2 million+18.5%
165Miscellaneous meat (preserved/prepared)$395 million+13.5%
166Iron and steel tubes, pipes$391.4 million+98.4%
167Laminated wood (including plywood, veneer panels)$385.1 million+7.7%
168Frozen beef$381.8 million+13.4%
169Other coloring matter, luminophores$380 million-3.4%
170Oats$378.4 million+14.2%
171Printing machinery$374.4 million-5.4%
172Peat$374 million+4.9%
173Ball, roller bearings$369.2 million+8.5%
174Miscellaneous wooden articles$367 million+7%
175Sort/screen/washing machinery$365.4 million+3.6%
176Fish fillets, pieces$363.2 million+8.1%
177Other machine parts, accessories$358.4 million+16.3%
178Red meat offal$356 million-15.6%
179Electric sound/visual signal bells or alarms$351.4 million-1.4%
180Wood/other ligneous fiberboard$349.9 million+11.7%
181Electric motors, generators$346.1 million+1.3%
182Refrigerators, freezers$345.1 million+1.3%
183Moluscs$345 million-1.7%
184Unrecorded sound media$343.8 million+34.3%
185Monofilament$342.7 million+5.8%
186Navigational aids, compasses$338.4 million+6.5%
187Whole fish (frozen)$337.5 million+7.4%
188Jewelry$337.1 million+29.7%
189Organic surface-active goods, soap$336.1 million+6.5%
190Malt$330.2 million-11.6%
191Veneer sheets, sheets for sawn wood$330.1 million+11.9%
192Frozen fruits, nuts$329.7 million+23.6%
193Crustaceans, molluscs (preserved/prepared)$328.4 million-13.9%
194Unvulcanized compounded rubber$327.8 million+16.6%
195Cold-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products$327 million+17.1%
196Electrical lighting/signaling equpment, defrosters$323 million+9.7%
197Sauces, mixed condiments, seasonings$321.4 million+8.3%
198Non-sublimed sulphur$321.3 million+29.8%
199Live swine$320.9 million-10.5%
200Liquid/gas checking instruments$320.2 million+20.8%

These 200 exported goods were worth a subtotal of US$382.1 billion or 84.9% by value for all products exported from Canada during 2018.

See also Canada’s Top 10 Imports, Canada’s Top Trading Partners, Top Canadian Trade Balances and Canada’s Top 10 Major Export Companies

Research Sources:
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 11, 2019

International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on June 18, 2019

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 11, 2019

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on March 11, 2019

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on March 11, 2019

Wikipedia, Cosmetic industry. Accessed on March 11, 2019

World’s Richest Countries, Targeted research > Enriching insights > Global opportunities (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on June 18, 2019