The latest dollar total also reflects a 32.4% acceleration compared to $450.8 billion over the 5-year period starting in 2018.
During the first 9 months of 2023, the Dominion of Canada exported $423.5 billion worth of goods via international markets. The corresponding $564.7 billion full-year projection suggests that Canada is on track for a -5.4% year-over-year drop in export revenues in 2023 compared to 2022.
Please note that the rest of this article focuses on statistics for full year 2022.
Based on the average exchange rate for 2022, the Canadian dollar weakened by -0.5% against the US dollar since 2018 and by -3.8% from 2021 to 2022. Canada’s diluted local currency made Canadian exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive for international buyers.
Canada’s 5 biggest export products by value in 2022 were crude oil, cars, petroleum gases, refined petroleum oils, gold then automobile parts or accessories. In aggregate, those major exports approach one third (30.7%) of the Canada’s overall exports sales. The commodities themselves suggest a modestly diversified range of exported goods.
Canada ranks among world-leading nations for exporting sawn wood, crude oil, cars and gold.
Canada’s Best Trade Customers
The latest available country-specific data shows that 91.8% of products exported from Canada were bought by importers in: United States of America (77% of the global total), mainland China (3.7%), United Kingdom (2.3%), Japan (also 2.3%), Mexico (1.2%), South Korea (1.1%), Germany (1%), Netherlands (0.8%), India (0.7%), Belgium (0.6%), Brazil (0.5%) and France (also 0.5%).
From a continental perspective, 78.3% of Canada’s exports by value was delivered to fellow North American countries (United States and Mexico) while 11% was sold to Asian importers. Canada shipped another 8% worth of goods to Europe.
Smaller percentages went to Latin America excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean (1.6%), Africa (0.7%) then Oceania led by Australia and New Zealand (0.5%).
Given Canada’s population of 38.7 million people, its total $596.9 billion in 2022 exports translates to roughly $15,400 for every resident. That per-capita metric is higher than the $13,200 average for 2021.
Canada’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups categorize the highest dollar value in Canadian global shipments during 2022. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Canada.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$180 billion (30.2% of total exports)
- Vehicles: $50.3 billion (8.4%)
- Machinery including computers: $37.7 billion (6.3%)
- Gems, precious metals: $23.9 billion (4%)
- Wood: $19.8 billion (3.3%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $17.3 billion (2.9%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $14.7 billion (2.5%)
- Aluminum: $14.2 billion (2.4%)
- Fertilizers: $13.7 billion (2.3%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $11.5 billion (1.9%)
Canada’s top 10 exports accounted for 64.2% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Fertilizers represent the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 107.7% since 2021.
In second place for improving export sales was mineral fuels including oil which was up by 50.1% led by coal, petroleum gases and oils.
Canada’s shipments of electrical machinery, equipment: posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 16.7% year over year.
The leading decliner among Canada’s top 10 export categories was ores, slag and ash which fell -13.4%, dragged down by lower revenues notably for iron ores and concentrates.
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.
Canada’s Major Food Exports
Calculated based on the overall $596.9 billion worth of products shipped from Canada in 2022, food exports amounted to a subtotal $65 billion or 10.9% of Canadian exported goods.
The value of Canada’s international food shipments grew by 39.1% in 2022 compared to 2018. Canada enjoyed a 7.9% uptick in food-related export revenues from 2021 to 2022.
The most valuable food category for Canadian shippers was cereals representing 15.5% of Canada’s food sales. The cereals product category was bolstered by higher global export sales particularly for wheat, and to a lesser extent barley, corn and oats.
In second place were exports of oil seeds accounting for 12.4% of total value for Canadian food exports.
Other major categories include meat led by Canada’s exports of meat notably pork and beef (11% of food total), animal or vegetable fats, oils and waxes (9.7%), cereal or milk preparations (9.5%), vegetables notably shelled and dried leguminous vegetables (9.4%), then fish and other seafood (9%).
Products Generating Trade Surpluses for Canada
Canada generated a $29.6 billion trade surplus for 2022, up by 108.5% compared to $14.2 billion in black ink one year earlier in 2021.
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.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$135.2 billion (Up by 50.8% since 2021)
- Wood: $15.8 billion (Down by -15.2%)
- Fertilizers: $10.5 billion (Up by 139%)
- Aluminum: $8.1 billion (Up by 12.7%)
- Cereals: $8 billion (Up by 8.2%)
- Ores, slag, ash: $7.2 billion (Down by -24.7%)
- Oil seeds: $6.6 billion (Down by -10.8%)
- Woodpulp: $6.2 billion (Up by 11.2%)
- Gems, precious metals: $4.9 billion (Down by -18.9%)
- Nickel: $4.7 billion (Up by 41%)
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.
Products Causing Trade Deficits for Canada
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.
- Machinery including computers: -US$42.5 billion (Up by 12.5% since 2021)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$38.3 billion (Up by 14.0%)
- Vehicles: -$28.5 billion (Up by 31.6%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$9.2 billion (Up by 3.3%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$7.2 billion (Up by 29.5%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: -$6.5 billion (Up by 30.7%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: -$6.3 billion (Up by 5.1%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$5.3 billion (Up by 45.5%)
- Beverages, spirits, vinegar: -$5 billion (Up by 16.3%)
- Toys, games: -$4.8 billion (Up by 5.4%)
Canada has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for machinery products including computers spanning myriad types and sizes for business and personal purposes. Red ink under the machinery including computer category also encompasses bulldozers and similar heavy construction equipment.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Canada’s competitive disadvantages in the international machinery market including computer-related goods, but also represent key opportunities for Canada to improve its position in the global economy through targeted innovations.
Canadian Export Companies
Wikipedia lists many of the larger international trade players from Canada.
- Barrick Gold (diversified metals, mining)
- Bombardier Inc. (aerospace, transit vehicles)
- Cameco (uranium)
- Canadian Natural Resources (oil, gas)
- Encana (oil, gas)
- Magna International (automotive parts)
- Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (specialized chemicals)
- Saputo (dairy products)
- Suncor Energy (oil, gas)
According to global trade intelligence firm Zepol, the following smaller companies are also examples of leading Canadian exporters.
- Interex Forest Products (wood, strand board)
- West Fraser Mills (wood, chemical woodpulp)
- Weyerhaeuser (wood, chemical woodpulp)
Searchable List of Canada’s Most Valuable Export Products
At the more granular four-digit HTS code level, the following searchable table displays 100 of the most in-demand goods shipped from Canada during 2022. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2021.
|Rank||Canada's Export Product||2022 Value (US$)||Change|
|4||Processed petroleum oils||$17,037,854,000||+48.2%|
|9||Coal, solid fuels made from coal||$10,827,413,000||+77.7%|
|10||Medication mixes in dosage||$9,662,721,000||+13.2%|
|13||Iron ores, concentrates||$6,742,493,000||-16.6%|
|18||Bread, biscuits, cakes, pastries||$4,738,221,000||+25.2%|
|19||Chemical woodpulp (non-dissolving)||$4,702,797,000||+8.3%|
|23||Crustaceans (including lobsters)||$3,619,804,000||-12.2%|
|24||Copper ores, concentrates||$3,488,853,000||-15.7%|
|25||Particle board, other ligneous materials||$3,399,977,000||-17.2%|
|26||Dried shelled vegetables||$3,304,785,000||+11.8%|
|28||Petroleum oil residues||$2,973,490,000||+100.8%|
|32||Aircraft or spacecraft parts||$2,652,487,000||#DIV/0!|
|33||Fresh or chilled beef||$2,549,315,000||+0.9%|
|34||Plastic packing goods, lids, caps||$2,497,609,000||+6.7%|
|35||Iron or steel scrap||$2,361,361,000||+0.8%|
|40||Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips||$1,990,310,000||+10.8%|
|41||Hot-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products||$1,984,845,000||-16.1%|
|42||Wood carpentry, builders' joinery||$1,968,586,000||+15.7%|
|43||Chocolate, other cocoa preparations||$1,968,373,000||+11.2%|
|44||Miscellaneous oil cakes||$1,931,042,000||+12.9%|
|45||Radioactive chemical elements||$1,881,261,000||+18%|
|46||Nickel matte, oxide sinters||$1,856,214,000||+44.4%|
|48||Phone system devices||$1,821,152,000||+6.4%|
|49||Other precious metal items||$1,778,600,000||-14.1%|
|51||Seats (excluding barber/dentist chairs)||$1,737,651,000||+11.8%|
|52||Miscellaneous iron and steel structures||$1,733,889,000||+16.3%|
|53||Rubber tires (new)||$1,696,190,000||-3.5%|
|54||Centrifuges, filters and purifiers||$1,685,817,000||+6.2%|
|55||Computers, optical readers||$1,665,617,000||+1.9%|
|56||Uncoated paper for writing/printing||$1,662,701,000||+27%|
|57||Other prepared/preserved vegetables (frozen)||$1,647,735,000||+22.3%|
|58||Miscellaneous iron or steel tubes, pipes||$1,563,660,000||+18.8%|
|59||Other food preparations||$1,563,215,000||+5.6%|
|60||Precious metal waste, scrap||$1,560,854,000||-18.1%|
|61||Beauty/makeup/skin care preparations||$1,528,050,000||+13.7%|
|62||Flat-rolled iron or non-alloy steel products (plated/coated)||$1,515,626,000||+17.9%|
|63||Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels||$1,498,791,000||+20.2%|
|65||Liquid pumps and elevators||$1,482,299,000||+17.7%|
|67||Newsprint (rolls or sheets)||$1,401,377,000||+29.7%|
|68||Miscellaneous plastic items||$1,355,749,000||+2.1%|
|69||Aluminum waste, scrap||$1,353,757,000||+19.6%|
|70||Electro-medical equip (e.g. xrays)||$1,325,146,000||+3.3%|
|72||Electrical converters/power units||$1,228,875,000||+23.3%|
|74||Other measuring/testing machines||$1,209,288,000||+7.9%|
|75||Refined copper, unwrought alloys||$1,208,144,000||-15.9%|
|76||Transmission shafts, gears, clutches||$1,200,364,000||+14%|
|77||Miscellaneous iron or steel items||$1,187,073,000||+22.9%|
|78||Base metal mountings, fittings||$1,176,922,000||+16.5%|
|81||Live bovine cattle||$1,160,598,000||+31.8%|
|83||TV receiver/transmit/digital cameras||$1,137,377,000||+23.2%|
|84||Taps, valves, similar appliances||$1,123,370,000||+17.3%|
|86||Miscellaneous animal feed preparations||$1,095,115,000||-1.3%|
|87||Paper containers, cellulose wadding||$1,063,657,000||+13.3%|
|88||Initiators/accelerators, catalytic preps||$1,030,653,000||+15.6%|
|90||Aircraft launch gear, ground fly trainer||$993,148,000||+81.7%|
|93||Lamps, lighting, illuminated signs||$951,205,000||+20.7%|
|96||Armored vehicles, tanks||$937,254,000||-42.1%|
|97||Whole fish (fresh)||$936,218,000||+8.5%|
|98||Miscellaneous fresh/chilled vegetables||$927,587,000||+7.7%|
|99||Soil preparation or cultivation machinery||$925,220,000||+44.2%|
|100||Piston engine parts||$923,422,000||+15.7%|
These 100 exported goods were worth a subtotal of US$456.1 billion or over three-quarters (76.4%) by value for all products exported from Canada during 2022.
In macroeconomic terms, Canada’s total exported goods represent 26.6% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2022 ($2.24 trillion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 26.6% for exports to overall GDP per PPP in 2022 compares to 24.8% one year earlier. Those percentages suggest an increasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Canada’s total economic performance, albeit based on a limited timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Canada’s unemployment rate averaged 5.291% for 2022 according to the International Monetary Fund, lower than the average 7.433% for 2021.
See also Canada’s Top 10 Imports, Canada’s Top Trading Partners, Top Canadian Trade Balances, Canada’s Top 10 Major Export Companies and World’s Top Food Exports Special Data Report
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on November 24, 2023
Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on November 24, 2023
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (Domestic Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on November 24, 2023
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on November 24, 2023
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on November 24, 2023
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on November 24, 2023
Richest Country Reports, Key Statistics Powering Global Wealth. Accessed on November 24, 2023
SHIPHUB, HS Code for Food. Accessed on November 24, 2023
Wikipedia, Cosmetic industry. Accessed on November 24, 2023
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on November 24, 2023
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on November 24, 2023