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 43.6% of Canada’s overall exported products for 2020, up from 42.7% in 2019.
Based on statistics from the International Monetary Fund, Ontario’s total for exported products represents 19% of the province’s total economic output or real Gross Domestic Product in 2020. Currency used for this calculation was based on US dollars in terms of purchasing power parity in current prices.
Given Ontario’s population of 14.7 million people, its total $169.6 billion in 2020 exports translates to roughly $11,500 for every resident in the Central Canadian province.
Ontario’s reported unemployment rate was 8% as of July 31, 2021, down from 10.6% 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 2020. 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.
- Gold (unwrought): US$14.8 billion (8.8% of Ontario’s total exports)
- Mid-sized automobiles (piston engine): $11.5 billion (6.8%)
- Large automobiles (piston engine): $10.7 billion (6.3%)
- Small automobiles (piston engine): $5.7 billion (3.3%)
- Miscellaneous medications: $3.3 billion (2%)
- Motor vehicle body parts, accessories: $3.2 billion (1.9%)
- Large spark-ignition engines: $1.9 billion (1.1%)
- Miscellaneous motor vehicle parts: $1.8 billion (1.1%)
- Breads, pastry, cakes, biscuits, wafers, similar goods: $1.7 billion (1%)
- Automobiles (both piston engine/electric motor): $1.5 billion (0.9%)
- Miscellaneous coins : $1.4 billion (0.8%)
- Items made from precious metals: $1.3 billion (0.7%)
- Hormones (excluding antibiotics, contraceptives): $1.2 billion (0.7%)
- Motorized armoured fighting vehicles, tanks: $1.03 billion (0.6%)
- Large aircraft: $1.01 billion (0.6%)
Ontario’s top 15 exports accounted for 36.6% of the overall value of the province’s global shipments.
Miscellaneous coins are the fastest grower among Ontario’s top 15 export products, up by 94.6% from 2019 to 2020. In second place for improving export sales were breads, pastry, cakes, biscuits, wafers and similar goods which rose 5.6%. Ontario’s shipments of hormones excluding antibiotics or contraceptives posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 4.9% ahead of miscellaneous medications (up 3.8%).
The leading decliner among Ontario’s top 10 export products were motorized armoured fighting vehicles including tanks which retreated -48.2% year over year.
More Key Facts
Overall, Ontario incurred a -$82.6 billion deficit exporting and importing products during 2020. That dollar amount reflects a -3.1% year-over-year reduction from -$85.2 billion in red ink for 2019.
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 2020.
- Mid-sized automobiles (piston engine): US$8.9 billion (3.5% of Ontario’s total imports)
- Gold (unwrought): $8.2 billion (3.3%)
- Small gas-powered trucks: $7.8 billion (3.1%)
- Large automobiles (piston engine): $5.1 billion (2%)
- Miscellaneous medications: $5.1 billion (2%)
- Cell phones: $4.9 billion (1.9%)
- Small portable computing devices: $4.5 billion (1.8%)
- Motor vehicle body parts, accessories: $3.8 billion (1.5%)
- Large spark-ignition engines: $3.5 billion (1.4%)
- Modems, similar reception/transmission devices: $2.9 billion (1.2%)
Notably, Ontario has negative net exports in the international trade of 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 94.5% worth of the total value of products exported from the province of Ontario during 2020.
- United States: US$134.7 billion (79.5% of Ontario’s total exports)
- United Kingdom: $12.4 billion (7.3%)
- Germany: $2.61 billion (1.5%)
- China: $2.05 billion (1.2%)
- Mexico: $1.96 billion (1.2%)
- Japan: $1.68 billion (1.0%)
- Norway: $1.58 billion (0.9%)
- Italy: $1.21 billion (0.7%)
- Netherlands: $1.01 billion (0.6%)
- Saudi Arabia: $998.9 million (0.6%)
Ontario’s top trade partners in North America (United States and Mexico) consume 80.6% of the overall value of exported goods from The Heartland Province. That percentage represents a drop from 81.1% one year earlier.
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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