Canada’s trade deficit total for all products equaled -US$6.6 billion in 2019, down -20.3% from the -$8.3 billion deficit in 2012. Year over year, the most recent -$6.6 billion in red ink represents a -27.8% decrease from the -$9.1 billion deficit that Canada generated during 2018.
To put that metric into perspective, the country’s total external debt encompassing both public and private red ink equaled -$2.019 trillion at March 2019. Canada’s external debt is the equivalent of roughly 300 times its negative international trade balance for products.
Trucks, mobile phones, automobile parts or accessories and computers were major factors behind Canada’s highest product trade deficits during 2019.
China, Mexico and Germany took the top 3 places among trade partners with which Canada experienced the highest negative trade balances.
Top Canadian Trade Balances by Product and Country
The following 10 leading products generated a surplus subtotal of $112.1 billion for Canada in its global trade during 2019. Metrics listed below highlight Canada’s strongest competitive advantages over worldwide trading partners.
- Crude oil: US$53.8 billion (Up 19.5% since 2012)
- Cars: $12.3 billion (Down -41.4%)
- Gold (unwrought): $9.6 billion (Up 74.5%)
- Petroleum gases: $6.6 billion (Down -14.7%)
- Sawn wood: $5.9 billion (Up 8.9%)
- Wheat: $5.3 billion (Down -12.8%)
- Aluminum (unwrought): $5 billion (Down -3.2%)
- Potassic fertilizers: $4.9 billion (Down -18.8%)
- Coal, solid fuels made from coal: $4.4 billion (Down -16.6%)
- Iron ores, concentrates: $4.2 billion (Up 28.3%)
The leading gainers for Canada’s product surpluses from 2012 to 2019 were exported gold (up 74.5%), iron ores and concentrates (up 28.3%) and crude oil (up 19.5%).
Positive Canadian trade balances were whittled down most dramatically over the 7-year period for cars (down -41.4%), potassic fertilizers (down -18.8%) then coal including solid fuels made from coal (down -16.6%).
The 10 major products below accumulated a deficit subtotal of -$54.1 billion for Canada in international trade during 2019. Canada has demonstrated the severest competitive disadvantages in the exports and imports of the following commodities.
- Trucks: -US$10.7 billion (Down -10.9% since 2012)
- Phone system devices including smartphones: -$8.9 billion (Up 34.3%)
- Automobile parts/accessories: -$8.9 billion (Down -21.5%)
- Computers, optical readers: -$7.8 billion (Up 1.3%)
- Blood fractions (including antisera): -$4 billion (Up 109%)
- Tractors: -$3.5 billion (Down -4.2%)
- Heavy machinery (e.g. bulldozers, excavators): -$2.9 billion (Down -27%)
- Insulated wire/cable: -$2.7 billion (Down -12.6%)
- Taps, valves, similar appliances: -$2.4 billion (Up 2.9%)
- Piston engines: -$2.3 billion (Up 6.9%)
On a percentage basis, Canada’s red ink in global trade expanded at the fastest rate for the following products: blood fractions including antisera (up 109% from 2012), phone system devices including smartphones (up 34.3%) then piston engines (up 6.9%).
Leading the decliners over the 7-year period was the heavy machinery subcategory (down -27%), automobile parts or accessories (down -21.5%) then insulated wire and cable (down -12.6%).
In 2019, Canada generated a surplus subtotal worth $121.1 billion with the following 10 trading partners.
- United States: US$107.1 billion (Up 2.8% since 2012)
- United Kingdom: $8 billion (Down -21.7%)
- Hong Kong: $2.7 billion (Up 25.3%)
- United Arab Emirates: $968.8 million (Down -22.4%)
- Norway: $476.8 million (Reversing a -$1.4 billion deficit)
- Algeria: $473 million (Reversing a -$5.6 billion deficit)
- Botswana: $399 million (Up 34,595%)
- Netherlands: $389.9 million (Down -61.5%)
- Latvia: $306.8 million (Up 786.4%)
- Singapore: $243.4 million (Reversing a -$528.9 million deficit)
Canada’s country-specific trade surplus increased on a percentage basis at the expense of Botswana (up 34,595%), Latvia (up 786.4%), Hong Kong (up 25.3%) and the United States (up 2.8%).
Canada experienced a losing international trade relationship with over 90 countries (islands or territories) in 2019. The following 10 trade partners created a -$96.5 billion deficit subtotal in 2019 from Canada’s exchange of exports and imports on global markets.
- China: -US$39 billion (Up 24.3% since 2012)
- Mexico: -$22.3 billion (Up 10.7%)
- Germany: -$9.7 billion (Down -10.7%)
- Italy: -$4.7 billion (Up 33%)
- Vietnam: -$4.5 billion (Up 261.8%)
- France: -$3.8 billion (Up 132.6%)
- Canada: -$3.4 billion (Up 0.2%)
- South Korea: -$3.1 billion (Up 17.2%)
- Japan: -$3 billion (Down -35.8%)
- Taiwan: -$2.96 billion (Down -5.2%)
Canada’s per-country deficits in 2019 expanded by double-digits trading with Vietnam (up 261.8%), France (up 132.6%), Italy (up 33%), China (up 24.3%), South Korea (up 17.2%) and Mexico (up 10.7%).
See also Canada’s Top 10 Imports, Canada’s Top Trading Partners, Canada’s Top 10 Exports and Canada’s Top 10 Major Export Companies
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. 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
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on February 7, 2020
Richest Country Reports, Key Statistics Powering Global Wealth. Accessed on February 7, 2020
Wikipedia, Economy of Canada. Accessed on February 7, 2020