Canada Exports By Country, A Comprehensive Analysis

Canada Exports By Country

How Canada’s Exports Boost Its Economy: A Comprehensive Analysis

Canada is one of the world’s largest exporters of goods and services, ranking ninth in the world in 2021 with a total value of $484 billion USD. Canada’s exports account for about 30% of its GDP, making it a highly trade-dependent economy. In this article, we will explore the main products and markets that Canada exports to, as well as the benefits and challenges of its trade policy.

Canada’s Top Export Products

According to the Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC), Canada’s top export products in 2021 were:
  • Crude petroleum ($81.2 billion USD): Canada has the third-largest proven oil reserves in the world, mostly located in Alberta’s oil sands. Canada exports most of its crude oil to the United States, its largest trading partner, as well as to China, Japan, and other countries.
  • Cars ($29 billion USD): Canada is a major producer of automobiles and auto parts, especially in Ontario and Quebec. Canada exports cars mainly to the United States, Mexico, China, and Europe.
  • Petroleum gas ($15 billion USD): Canada is also a major producer and exporter of natural gas, mostly from British Columbia and Alberta. Canada exports natural gas mainly to the United States, as well as to China, Japan, and other countries.
  • Gold ($14.3 billion USD): Canada is one of the world’s top gold producers and exporters, with mines in Ontario, Quebec, British Columbia, and other provinces. Canada exports gold mainly to the United Kingdom, China, India, and Switzerland.
  • Sawn wood ($13.3 billion USD): Canada has abundant forests and is a leading exporter of wood products, such as lumber, plywood, and pulp. Canada exports sawn wood mainly to the United States, China, Japan, and other countries.

Canada’s Top Export Markets

According to the World Bank, Canada’s top export markets in 2020 were:
  • United States ($355 billion USD): The United States is Canada’s largest and most important trading partner, accounting for about 73% of its total exports. The two countries share a long border and have a free trade agreement (the USMCA) that facilitates trade in goods and services. The main products that Canada exports to the United States are crude oil, cars, natural gas, gold, and sawn wood.
  • China ($22.5 billion USD): China is Canada’s second-largest export market, accounting for about 4.6% of its total exports. China is a fast-growing economy and a major consumer of natural resources and manufactured goods. The main products that Canada exports to China are crude oil, sawn wood, rapeseed, copper ores, and potash.
  • Japan ($11.9 billion USD): Japan is Canada’s third-largest export market, accounting for about 2.5% of its total exports. Japan is a highly developed economy and a major importer of energy and raw materials. The main products that Canada exports to Japan are coal, natural gas, copper ores, pork meat, and wheat.
  • United Kingdom ($11.8 billion USD): The United Kingdom is Canada’s fourth-largest export market, accounting for about 2.4% of its total exports. The United Kingdom is a major financial center and a key ally of Canada. The main products that Canada exports to the United Kingdom are gold, diamonds, nickel ores, uranium ores, and aluminum.
  • Mexico ($7.14 billion USD): Mexico is Canada’s fifth-largest export market, accounting for about 1.5% of its total exports. Mexico is a developing economy and a partner of Canada in the USMCA free trade agreement. The main products that Canada exports to Mexico are cars, motor vehicle parts, wheat, canola oil, and paper.

The Benefits of Exports for Canada

Exports are vital for Canada’s economic growth and development. Some of the benefits of exports for Canada are:
  • Creating jobs: Exports support millions of jobs in various sectors of the Canadian economy, such as manufacturing, mining, forestry, agriculture, and services. According to Statistics Canada, about one in five Canadian jobs depends on exports.
  • Increasing income: Exports generate income for Canadian businesses and workers, as well as tax revenues for the government. According to Statistics Canada, the average annual income of workers in export-oriented industries was $58,000 CAD in 2019, compared to $46,000 CAD for workers in non-export-oriented industries.
  • Diversifying markets: Exports help Canada diversify its markets and reduce its dependence on any single country or region. This reduces the risk of economic shocks or disruptions due to political or economic instability or trade disputes.
  • Enhancing competitiveness: Exports expose Canadian businesses to global competition and innovation, which encourages them to improve their productivity and quality, as well as to invest in research and development. This enhances Canada’s competitiveness and reputation in the world market.
  • Fostering cooperation: Exports foster cooperation and dialogue between Canada and its trading partners, as well as among international organizations and institutions. This promotes peace, security, and mutual understanding among countries.

The Challenges of Exports for Canada

Exports also pose some challenges and risks for Canada’s economy and society. Some of the challenges of exports for Canada are:
  • Facing trade barriers: Exports face various trade barriers, such as tariffs, quotas, subsidies, regulations, and standards, that limit or restrict their access to foreign markets. These barriers increase the cost and complexity of trade and reduce the competitiveness of Canadian products. For example, Canada faces trade barriers in its exports of dairy products, softwood lumber, steel, and aluminum to the United States.
  • Managing trade disputes: Exports are often subject to trade disputes or conflicts with other countries over issues such as market access, intellectual property rights, environmental standards, or human rights. These disputes can result in retaliatory measures or sanctions that harm trade flows and relations. For example, Canada is involved in a trade dispute with China over the arrest of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou and the detention of two Canadian citizens in China.
  • Balancing trade-offs: Exports involve trade-offs between economic benefits and social or environmental costs. For example, exporting natural resources can boost income and employment, but also deplete non-renewable resources, generate pollution, or affect indigenous rights. Exporting manufactured goods can increase productivity and innovation, but also create dependency on foreign markets, reduce domestic consumption, or cause job losses due to automation or outsourcing.
  • Adapting to change: Exports have to adapt to changing global trends and demands, such as technological advances, consumer preferences, demographic shifts, or climate change. These changes can create new opportunities or challenges for Canadian exporters. For example, the rise of e-commerce, digital services, and green technologies can offer new markets or niches for Canadian products, but also require new skills, infrastructure, or regulations.

Canada is a major exporter of goods and services to the world, with a diverse portfolio of products and markets. Exports play a crucial role in Canada’s economic growth and development, as well as in its international relations and cooperation. However, exports also face some challenges and risks that require careful management and adaptation. Canada needs to pursue a balanced and sustainable trade policy that maximizes the benefits and minimizes the costs of exports for its economy and society.

Canada’s Export Trends in 2020

According to the World Bank, Canada exported a total of $375.4 billion worth of goods in 2020, making it the 12th largest exporter in the world. The main destination of Canada’s exports was the United States, which accounted for 74.9% of the total value. China was the second largest market, with 6.1% of the share, followed by the United Kingdom (3.9%), Japan (3.8%), and Mexico (2%).

The top exported products of Canada in 2020 were crude petroleum ($60.8 billion), cars ($24.6 billion), petroleum gas ($13.4 billion), gold ($12.9 billion), and sawn wood ($10.7 billion), according to the Observatory of Economic Complexity. These products represented 33.7% of the total exports of Canada in 2020. Other significant exports included aircraft, refined petroleum, potash, rapeseed, and aluminum.

The Impact of COVID-19 on Canada’s Exports

The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on Canada’s exports in 2020, as global demand and trade activity contracted due to lockdowns, travel restrictions, and supply chain disruptions. According to Trading Economics, Canada’s exports declined by 12.3% in 2020 compared to 2019, the largest annual drop since 2009. The decline was mainly driven by lower exports of energy products (-31.5%), motor vehicles and parts (-20.4%), consumer goods (-8%), and metal and non-metallic mineral products (-7.7%).

However, some sectors showed resilience or growth amid the pandemic, such as agriculture and agri-food products (+8.1%), forestry products (+6%), and pharmaceuticals and medicinal products (+22.7%). These sectors benefited from increased demand for food, health, and hygiene products, as well as from favorable exchange rates and market diversification.

The Outlook for Canada’s Exports in 2021

The outlook for Canada’s exports in 2021 is more optimistic than in 2020, as the global economy recovers from the pandemic and vaccine rollouts accelerate. According to the International Monetary Fund, world trade volume is expected to grow by 8.4% in 2021, after contracting by 9.6% in 2020. The main drivers of this recovery are the rebound in consumer and business confidence, the easing of lockdown measures, the fiscal and monetary stimulus measures, and the improvement in commodity prices.

For Canada, the export outlook is also positive, as its main trading partner, the United States, is expected to grow by 6.4% in 2021, the fastest pace since 1984. Moreover, Canada has access to other growing markets through its trade agreements, such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), and the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA). These agreements provide preferential access to more than half of the world’s GDP and population.

According to Export Development Canada (EDC), Canada’s exports are projected to grow by 8% in 2021, after falling by 12% in 2020. The sectors that are expected to lead this growth are energy (+18%), metals and minerals (+14%), forestry (+13%), chemicals and plastics (+9%), and aerospace (+8%). However, some challenges remain for Canada’s exporters, such as the uncertainty related to the pandemic evolution, the trade tensions with China, the environmental regulations, and the competitiveness issues.


Essential Topics You Should Be Familiar With:

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