Year over year, the most recent $14.5 billion in black ink represents a reversal from the -$14.4 billion deficit that Canada incurred one year earlier during 2020.
To put that metric into perspective, the country’s total external debt encompassing both public and private red ink equaled -$2.566 trillion at September 2021. Canada’s external debt is the equivalent size of roughly 170 times its positive international trade balance for products.
Crude oil, sawn wood, petroleum gases, gold and aluminium were major drivers behind Canada’s highest product-specific trade surpluses during 2021.
The United States of America, United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Norway and United Arab Emirates took the top 5 places among trade partners with which Canada extracted the highest positive trade balances.
Top Canadian Trade Balances by Product and Country
The following 10 leading products generated a surplus subtotal of $141.7 billion for Canada in its global trade during 2021. Metrics listed below highlight Canada’s strongest competitive advantages over worldwide trading partners.
- Crude oil: US$70.2 billion (Up 79.8% since 2020)
- Sawn wood: $12.8 billion (Up 73.9%)
- Petroleum gases: $12.4 billion (Up 132.6%)
- Gold (unwrought): $8.6 billion (Up 16.9%)
- Aluminum (unwrought): $7.7 billion (Up 48%)
- Iron ores, concentrates: $7.3 billion (Up 42.2%)
- Wheat: $6.6 billion (Up 5.1%)
- Potassic fertilizers: $5.7 billion (Up 26.4%)
- Coal, solid fuels made from coal: $5.4 billion (Up 92.6%)
- Miscellaneous aircraft, spacecraft: $5.1 billion (Up 26%)
The leading gainers for Canada’s product surpluses from 2020 to 2021 were petroleum gases (up 132.6%), coal including solid fuels made from coal (up 92.6%), crude oil (up 79.8%), sawn wood (up 73.9%) and raw aluminum (up 48%).
The slowest percentage growth among Canada’s top product surpluses is attributable to wheat (up 5.1%).
The 10 major products below accumulated a deficit subtotal of -$58.6 billion for Canada in international trade during 2021. Canada has demonstrated the severest competitive disadvantages in the exports and imports of the following commodities.
- Trucks: -US$13.4 billion (Up 31.7% since 2020)
- Phone devices including smartphones: -$10 billion (Up 21%)
- Computers, optical readers: -$9.8 billion (Up 16.6%)
- Blood fractions (including antisera): -$7.4 billion (Up 67.7%)
- Silver (unwrought): -$3.4 billion (Up 99.9%)
- Automobile parts/accessories: -$3.22 billion (Down -39.4%)
- Tractors: -$3.18 billion (Up 58.9%)
- Heavy machinery (e.g. bulldozers, excavators): -$3.1 billion (Up 42.2%)
- Insulated wire/cable: -$2.7 billion (Up 21.7%)
- Trailers: -$2.5 billion (Up 77.9%)
On a percentage basis, Canada’s red ink in global trade expanded at the fastest rate for the following products: silver (up 99.9% from 2020), trailers (up 77.9%), blood fractions including antisera (up 67.7%), tractors (up 58.9%) then heavy machinery such as bulldozers and excavators (up 42.2%).
The sole decliner year over year were automobile parts or accessories (down -39.4%).
In 2021, Canada generated a surplus subtotal worth $157.4 billion with the following 10 trading partners.
- United States: US$142.9 billion (Up 60% since 2020)
- United Kingdom: $6.6 billion (Down -26.7%)
- Hong Kong, China: $2.5 billion (Up 150.7%)
- Norway: $1.7 billion (Up 67.4%)
- United Arab Emirates: $1.1 billion (Down -1%)
- Algeria: $814.7 million (Up 90.1%)
- Netherlands: $706 million (Down -57.4%)
- Malta: $498.4 million (Up 177.9%)
- Iran: $295.5 million (Up 4.5%)
- Bahamas: $275.8 million (Up 157.4%)
Year over year, Canada’s country-specific trade surplus increased by triple digits at the expense of Malta (up 177.9%), Bahamas (up 157.4%) and Hong Kong (up 150.7%).
Canada experienced a losing international trade relationship with over 10 countries (islands or territories) in 2021. The following 10 trade partners created a -$105.8 billion deficit subtotal in 2021 from Canada’s exchange of exports and imports on global markets.
- China: -US$45.3 billion (Up 18.4% since 2020)
- Mexico: -$20.1 billion (Up 13.7%)
- Germany: -$9.7 billion (Up 18.9%)
- Vietnam: -$7.3 billion (Up 32.4%)
- Italy: -$6.3 billion (Up 58.5%)
- Taiwan: -$4,.3 billion (Up 49%)
- Brazil: -$4.2 billion (Up 26%)
- Canada: -$3.8 billion (Up 25.9%)
- South Korea: -$3.6 billion (Down -0.3%)
- Thailand: -$2.6 billion (Up 27.1%)
- France: -$2.4 billion (Up 19%)
Canada’s per-country deficits in 2021 expanded at the greatest pace since 2020 with: Italy (up 58.5%), Taiwan (up 49%), Vietnam (up 32.4%), Thailand (up 27.1%) and Brazil (up 26%).
The sole decliner year over year was a -0.3% slowdown in the deficit that Canada posted trading with South Korea.
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 March 12, 2022
External Debt (for specified countries), CEIC Data. Accessed on March 12, 2022
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (Domestic Currency per U.S. dollar, period average)
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 12, 2022
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 12, 2022
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 12, 2022
Richest Country Reports, Key Statistics Powering Global Wealth. Accessed on March 12, 2022
Wikipedia, Economy of Canada. Accessed on March 12, 2022