Nicknamed “The Heartland Province” and located in Central Canada, the province of Ontario shipped US$190.8 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2019. That dollar amount represents a 1.4% gain from 2018 to 2019 and a 3.6% increase since 2015.
Ontario ranks as Canada’s biggest exporter by province or territory ahead of other front-running provinces Alberta, Quebec and British Columbia. The value of Ontario’s exports equals 42.7% of Canada’s overall exported products for 2019.
Based on statistics from the International Monetary Fund, Ontario’s exported products represent 10% of the province’s total economic output or real Gross Domestic Product in 2019. Currency used for this calculation was based on US dollars in terms of purchasing power parity in current prices.
Given Ontario’s population of 14.4 million people, its total $190.8 billion in 2019 exports translates to roughly $13,200 for every resident in the Central Canadian province.
Ontario’s unemployment rate was 7.6% as of March 2020 up from 5.9% one year earlier, per YCharts.
Ontario’s Top 10 Exports
The following export products represent the highest dollar value for Ontario’s global shipments during 2019. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Ontario.
Figures are shown at the more granular six-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, for more precise product identification.
- Large automobiles (piston engine): US$15.1 billion (7.9% of Ontario’s total exports)
- Mid-sized automobiles (piston engine): $14.9 billion (7.8%)
- Gold (unwrought): $14.9 billion (7.8%)
- Small automobiles (piston engine): $5.9 billion (3.1%)
- Motor vehicle body parts, accessories: $3.9 billion (2%)
- Miscellaneous medications: $3.2 billion (1.7%)
- Small gas-powered trucks: $2.9 billion (1.5%)
- Large spark-ignition engines: $2.2 billion (1.2%)
- Miscellaneous motor vehicle parts: $2.1 billion (1.1%)
- Motorized armoured fighting vehicles, tanks: $2 billion (1%)
- Automobiles (both piston engine/electric motor): $1.8 billion (1%)
- Breads, pastry, cakes, biscuits, wafers, similar goods: $1.6 billion (0.9%)
- Aircraft under-carriages, related parts: $1.2 billion (0.6%)
- Hormones (excluding antibiotics, contraceptives): $1.1 billion (0.6%)
- Injection/compression moulds (for rubber, plastics): $1 billion (0.5%)
Ontario’s top 15 exports accounted for 38.7% of the overall value of the province’s global shipments.
Automobiles powered by both piston engine and electric motor was the fastest grower among Ontario’s top 15 export products, up by 194.3% from 2018 to 2019. In second place for improving export sales were motorized armoured fighting vehicles and tanks which rose 57.3%. Ontario’s shipments of unrefined gold posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 30.1% ahead of small gas-powered trucks (up 19.3%).
The leading decliner among Ontario’s top 10 export products were large automobiles powered by piston engine which retreated -18.1% year over year.
More Key Facts
Overall, Ontario incurred a -$83 billion deficit exporting and importing products during 2019. That dollar amount reflects a -3% year-over-year reduction from -$85.6 billion in red ink for 2018.
Another way of saying surplus or deficit is positive or negative net exports. In a nutshell, the term “net exports” quantifies the amount by which foreign spending on a province’s goods or services exceeds or lags that same province’s spending on foreign goods or services.
Below are Ontario’s top 10 import products highlighting the province’s highest spending on foreign-made goods in 2019.
- Mid-sized automobiles (piston engine): US$11.6 billion (4.2% of Ontario’s total imports)
- Small gas-powered trucks: $10 billion (3.7%)
- Large automobiles (piston engine): $7.9 billion (2.9%)
- Cell phones: $5.6 billion (2%)
- Gold (unwrought): $5.5 billion (2%)
- Miscellaneous medications: $5.3 billion (1.9%)
- Motor vehicle body parts, accessories: $5.1 billion (1.8%)
- Large spark-ignition engines: $4.2 billion (1.5%)
- Small portable computing devices: $4 billion (1.5%)
- Miscellaneous motor vehicle parts: $3 billion (1.1%)
Ontario has negative net exports in the international trade of small gas-powered trucks, cell phones and miscellaneous medications. In turn, these cashflows indicate Ontario’s competitive disadvantages under those product categories.
The following list shows the top 10 customers that purchase 94.3% worth of the total value of products exported from the province of Ontario during 2019.
- United States: US$152.2 billion (79.8% of Ontario’s total exports)
- United Kingdom: $12.3 billion (6.4%)
- China: $2.44 billion (1.3%)
- Mexico: $2.42 billion (1.3%)
- Hong Kong: $2.33 billion (1.2%)
- Germany: $2.3 billion (1.2%)
- Saudi Arabia: $1.8 billion (1%)
- Japan: $1.5 billion (0.8%)
- Norway: $1.4 billion (0.8%)
- Italy: $1 billion (0.5%)
Ontario’s top trade partners in North America (United States and Mexico) consume 81.1% of the overall value of exported goods from The Heartland Province.
Ontario’s Export-Related Companies
Below are some of Canada’s largest businesses that are involved in international trade either directly or indirectly. Their corporate headquarters are in the province of Ontario.
- Brookfield Asset Management (finance)
- Toronto-Dominion Bank (finance)
- Magna International (automotive parts)
- Scotiabank (finance)
- Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (finance)
- Rogers Communications (telecommunications)
- Barrick Gold (mining)
- First Quantum Minerals (mining)
- Shopify (e-commerce)
- Advanz Pharma (pharmaceuticals)
Shown within brackets for each company is a summary of the international trade-related products or services which each business manages.
Ontario’s capital is Toronto, a municipality nicknamed “the Six”. That moniker refers to the original cities of original cities of Toronto, North York, Scarborough, York, Etobicoke, and the former borough of East York.
See also Canada’s Top 10 Exports, Canada’s Top 10 Imports, and Top Canadian Trade Balances
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