Based on the average exchange rate for 2021, the Canadian dollar has strengthened by 3.8% against the US dollar since 2017 and by 6.7% from 2020 to 2021. Canada’s stronger local currency made its imports paid for in weaker US dollars relatively less expensive when converted starting from the Canadian loonie.
From a continental perspective, 54.8% of Canada’s total imports by value in 2021 were purchased from fellow North American nations. Asian trade partners satisfied 26.4% of imports bought by Canada while 13.8% worth originated from Europe.
Smaller percentages for Canadian imports came from Latin America (3.3%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, Africa (1.3%) and Oceania (0.5%) led by Australia and New Zealand.
Canada’s biggest imported products by total cost in 2021 were for imported cars, trucks, automobile parts or accessories, refined petroleum oils and crude oil. Collectively, those top 5 commodities accounted for 16.7% of total Canadian imports.
Given Canada’s population of 38.2 million people, its total $488.9 billion in goods imported during 2021 translates to about $12,800 in yearly product demand from every person in the North American country. That per-capita average significantly outpaces the $10,700 one year earlier.
Canada’s Top 10 Imports
The following product groups represent the highest dollar value in Canada’s import purchases during 2021. Also shown is the percentage share each product category represents in terms of overall imports into Canada.
- Machinery including computers: US$70.6 billion (14.4% of total imports)
- Vehicles: $67.2 billion (13.7%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $46.2 billion (9.4%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $30.3 billion (6.2%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $20.5 billion (4.2%)
- Gems, precious metals: $18.7 billion (3.8%)
- Pharmaceuticals: $18.6 billion (3.8%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $13.3 billion (2.7%)
- Articles of iron or steel: $11.4 billion (2.3%)
- Iron, steel: $10.5 billion (2.1%)
Canada’s top 10 imports accounted for over three-fifths (62.6%) of the overall value of its product purchases from other countries.
Purchases of iron and steel as materials increased at the fastest pace among the top 10 import categories, up 98.3% from 2020 to 2021. In second place were mineral fuels including oil (up 50.7%) trailed by pharmaceuticals (up 29.8%), items made from iron or steel (up 28.9%), plastics as materials and items made from plastic (up 28.3%), then vehicles (up 20.1%).
Year over year, there were no percentage declines among Canada’s most valuable import products.
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 adjacent virtual folder tabs.
In 2021, Canadian importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of machinery including computers.
- Computers, optical readers: US$11.4 billion (up 15.8% from 2020)
- Turbo-jets: $4.5 billion (down -1.3%)
- Piston engines: $3.5 billion (down -7.7%)
- Taps, valves, similar appliances: $3.2 billion (up 8.8%)
- Heavy machinery (bulldozers, excavators, road rollers): $3.2 billion (up 39.5%)
- Centrifuges, filters and purifiers: $3 billion (up 17.2%)
- Machinery parts: $2.8 billion (up 27.6%)
- Transmission shafts, gears, clutches: $2.7 billion (up 10.9%)
- Liquid pumps and elevators: $2.5 billion (up 11.6%)
- Air conditioners: $2 billion (up 26.5%)
Among these import subcategories, Canadian purchases of heavy machinery including bulldozers, excavators and road rollers (up 39.5%), machinery part (up 27.6%) then air conditioners (up 26.5%) grew at the fastest pace from 2020 to 2021.
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 2021, Canadian importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of vehicles.
- Cars: US$27.7 billion (up 26.5% from 2020)
- Trucks: $14.7 billion (up 25.1%)
- Automobile parts/accessories: $14.2 billion (down -1.5%)
- Tractors: $3.6 billion (up 50.8%)
- Trailers: $3.2 billion (up 65.2%)
- Armored vehicles, tanks: $886.6 million (down -12.9%)
- Motorcycles: $775.4 million (up 63.1%)
- Special purpose vehicles: $728.9 million (up 10.1%)
- Public-transport vehicles: $501.3 million (down -33.1%)
- Bicycles, other non-motorized cycles: $333.8 million (up 45.8%)
Among these import subcategories, Canadian purchases of trailers (up 65.2%), motorcycles (up 63.1%) then tractors (up 50.8%) grew at the fastest pace from 2020 to 2021.
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 2021, Canadian importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of electrical goods including consumer electronics.
- Phone devices including smartphones: US$11.7 billion (up 18.8% from 2020)
- Insulated wire/cable: $3.5 billion (up 20.9%)
- TV receivers/monitors/projectors: $2.4 billion (up 10.1%)
- Electrical converters/power units: $2.2 billion (up 17.9%)
- Lower-voltage switches, fuses: $2.1 billion (up 22.4%)
- Electric water heaters, hair dryers: $2 billion (up 26.8%)
- Integrated circuits/microassemblies: $2 billion (up 25.7%)
- Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels: $1.6 billion (up 7.4%)
- Microphones/headphones/amps: $1.6 billion (up 3%)
- Electric storage batteries: $1.5 billion (up 24.8%)
Among these import subcategories, Canadian purchases of electric water heaters and hair dryers (up 26.8%), integrated electronic circuits or microassemblies (up 25.7%) then electric storage batteries (up 24.8%) grew at the fastest pace from 2020 to 2021.
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 2021, Canadian importers spent the most on the following 10 subcategories of mineral fuels-related products.
- Processed petroleum oils: US$13.4 billion (up 62.7% from 2020)
- Crude oil: $11.8 billion (up 37.2%)
- Petroleum gases: $2.7 billion (up 54.6%)
- Coal, solid fuels made from coal: $607.2 million (up 6.7%)
- Electrical energy: $504.4 million (up 177.4%)
- Petroleum oil residues: $454.3 million (up 50%)
- Petroleum jelly, mineral waxes: $294.7 million (up 94.7%)
- Coke, semi-coke: $287.9 million (up 75.7%)
- Coal tar oils (high temperature distillation): $95.5 million (up 56.2%)
- Natural bitumen, asphalt, shale: $66.1 million (up 32.7%)
Among these import subcategories, Canadian purchases of electrical energy (up 177.4%), petroleum jelly and mineral waxes (up 94.7%) then coke, or semi-coke (up 75.7%) grew at the fastest pace from 2020 to 2021.
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.
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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