Canada shipped US$408.7 billion worth of products around the globe in 2015. That figure represents roughly 2.2% of overall global exports estimated at $18.659 trillion in the prior year.
From a continental perspective, 77.8% of Canadian exports (by value) were delivered to its North American Free Trade Agreement partners, United States and Mexico. Asian importers purchased 11.1% followed by European imports at 8.4%. Latin America (excluding Mexico) and the Caribbean consumed 1.4% of Canada’s total exports.
Canada’s Top Trading Partners
Below is a list showcasing 15 of Canada’s top trading partners, countries that imported the most Canadian shipments by dollar value during 2016. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total Canadian exports.
- United States: US$297.7 billion (76.3% of total Canadian exports)
- China: $15.8 billion (4.1%)
- United Kingdom: $12.9 billion (3.3%)
- Japan: $8.1 billion (2.1%)
- Mexico: $5.8 billion (1.5%)
- South Korea: $3.3 billion (0.8%)
- Germany: $3.1 billion (0.8%)
- India: $3 billion (0.8%)
- France: $2.6 billion (0.7%)
- Belgium: $2.3 billion (0.6%)
- Netherlands: $2.1 billion (0.5%)
- Hong Kong: $1.8 billion (0.4%)
- Italy: $1.8 billion (0.4%)
- Brazil: $1.5 billion (0.4%)
- Australia: $1.5 billion (0.4%)
Over nine-tenths (93.1%) of Canadian exports in 2016 were delivered to the above 15 trade partners.
Leading the top importers that increased their import purchases from Canada from 2009 to 2016 were: China (up 61.5%), India (up 57.4%), Belgium (up 37.4%), Mexico (up 36.7%) and Hong Kong (up 33.4%).
Three top import countries cut back their Canadian product purchases, namely Netherlands (down -12%), Australia (down -5.8%) and Germany (down -5.6%).
As defined by Investopedia, a country whose total value of all imported goods is higher than its value of all exports is said to have a negative trade balance or deficit.
It would be unrealistic for any exporting nation to expect across-the-board positive trade balances with all its importing partners. Similarly, that export country doesn’t necessarily post a negative trade balance with each individual partner with which it exchanges exports and imports.
In 2016, Canada incurred the highest trade deficits with the following countries:
- China: -US$32.8 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2016)
- Mexico: -$19.3 billion
- Germany: -$10 billion
- South Korea: -$4.7 billion
- Italy: -$3.9 billion
- Japan: -$3.8 billion
- Vietnam: -$3.3 billion
- Canada: -$2.9 billion
- Taiwan: -$2.6 billion
- Switzerland: -$2.4 billion
Among Canada’s trading partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, Canadian deficits with Vietnam (up 356.7%), South Korea up 123.9%), Mexico (up 86.9%) and Italy (up 67.9%) grew at the fastest pace from 2009 to 2016.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Canada’s competitive disadvantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Canada to develop country-specific strategies to strengthen its overall position in international trade.
Based on Investopedia’s definition of net importer, a country whose total value of all imported goods is lower than its value of all exports is said to have a positive trade balance or surplus.
In 2016, Canada incurred the highest trade surpluses with the following countries:
- United States: US$87.3 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2016)
- United Kingdom: $6.7 billion
- Hong Kong: $1.5 billion
- United Arab Emirates: $1.3 billion
- Belgium: $614.4 million
- Pakistan: $537 million
- Malta: $516 million
- Botswana: $273.7 million
- Singapore: $270.4 million
- Venezuela: $180.2 million
Among Canada’s trading partners that cause the greatest positive trade balances, Canadan surpluses with Malta (up 2,469%), Pakistan up 268.6%), United Kingdom (up 187.4%), Belgium (up 56.2%) and Hong Kong (up 54.1%) grew at the fastest pace from 2009 to 2016.
These positive cashflow streams clearly indicate Canada’s competitive advantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Canada to develop country-specific strategies to optimize its overall position in international trade.
Companies Servicing Canadian Trading Partners
Fifty-seven Canadian corporations rank among Forbes Global 2000 for 2015. Below is a sample of the major Canadian companies that Forbes included:
The following companies are selected examples of leading companies headquartered in Canada:
- Suncor Energy (oil, gas)
- Canadian Natural Resources (oil, gas)
- Husky Energy (oil, gas)
- Enbridge (oil services, equipment)
- Magna International (auto parts, accessories)
- Potash of Saskatchewan (specialized chemicals)
- Agrium (specialized chemicals)
- Teck Resources (diversified metals)
According to Canadian Exports online directory, the following are examples of smaller entrepreneurial companies that ship products from Canada to its trading partners around the globe. Shown within parenthesis is the product category that the Canadian business specializes in.
- A.S. Chemical Laboratories Inc. (pharmaceuticals)
- Aerospace Metal Finishing Inc. (plated surface finishes)
- Centennial Solar (solar panels)
- C-I-L Explosives (specialty explosives)
- Ciment Quebec Inc. (cement)
- Control Skateboards (customized skateboards)
- Cormer Group Industries Inc. (aircraft components)
- Hi-Pro Feeds (animal nutrition products)
- International Play Company (indoor/outdoor play structures)
- Lafleur Industries Inc. (truck chassis, parts)
- Netchem Inc. (specialized chemicals)
- Seven Star Sports (designer safety helmets)
See also Canada’s Top 10 Imports, Highest Value Canadian Import Products, Highest Value Canadian Export Products and Top Canadian Trade Balances
The World Factbook, Field Listing: Imports – Commodities, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on February 11, 2017
Trade Map, International Trade Centre, www.intracen.org/marketanalysis. Accessed on February 11, 2017
Investopedia, Net Importer Definition. Accessed on November 3, 2015
Canadian Exports online directory, Export Promotion Tool. Accessed on November 3, 2015
Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on February 11, 2016