Quebec exports, A Guide for Businesses and Investors

Quebec exports

Quebec Exports: A Guide for Businesses and Investors

Quebec is one of the most dynamic and diversified economies in Canada, with a strong presence in sectors such as aerospace, biotechnology, information technology, mining, and renewable energy. The province is also a major exporter of goods and services, both within Canada and internationally. In this article, we will explore the main features of Quebec’s export sector, the opportunities and challenges it faces, and the resources available for businesses and investors who want to tap into this market.

Quebec’s Export Profile

According to Statistics Canada, Quebec exported $86.9 billion worth of goods in 2020, accounting for 18.4% of Canada’s total exports. The province ranked second among the provinces and territories in terms of export value, behind only Ontario. Quebec’s main export destinations were the United States ($57.5 billion), the European Union ($9.6 billion), China ($4.4 billion), and Mexico ($2.3 billion). The province’s main export products were aircraft and parts ($9.8 billion), aluminum ($7.2 billion), iron ores and concentrates ($4.8 billion), pharmaceutical products ($3.9 billion), and paper and paperboard ($3.7 billion).

Quebec also exported $36.5 billion worth of services in 2019, according to the Institut de la statistique du Québec. This represented 19.8% of Canada’s total service exports and 11.6% of Quebec’s gross domestic product (GDP). The province’s main service export categories were transportation ($10.6 billion), travel ($8.5 billion), commercial services ($7.8 billion), and government services ($5.1 billion). The province’s main service export markets were the United States ($23.4 billion), the European Union ($5.1 billion), Asia ($3.6 billion), and Latin America and the Caribbean ($1.7 billion).

Quebec’s Export Opportunities and Challenges

Quebec has many advantages that make it an attractive location for exporting businesses and investors, such as:
  • A highly skilled and bilingual workforce, with a strong emphasis on innovation and research and development.
  • A strategic geographic position, with access to major markets in North America and Europe, as well as a network of ports, airports, railways, and highways.
  • A diversified and competitive industrial base, with world-class clusters in sectors such as aerospace, biotechnology, information technology, mining, and renewable energy.
  • A favorable business environment, with low corporate taxes, generous tax credits, public support programs, and free trade agreements with many countries.

However, Quebec also faces some challenges that may affect its export performance, such as:

  • A high dependence on the U.S. market, which accounted for 66% of Quebec’s goods exports and 64% of its service exports in 2020 and 2019 respectively.
  • A vulnerability to external shocks, such as trade disputes, currency fluctuations, environmental regulations, and health crises.
  • A need to diversify its export products and markets, especially in emerging regions such as Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
  • A need to adapt to changing consumer preferences and technological trends, such as digitalization, e-commerce, green economy, and social responsibility.

Quebec’s Export Resources

Quebec offers a variety of resources for businesses and investors who want to start or expand their export activities in the province, such as:

  • Export Québec: A government agency that provides information, advice, financial assistance, market intelligence, trade missions, and networking opportunities for Quebec exporters.
  • Investissement Québec: A government corporation that offers financing solutions, tax incentives, consulting services, and business support for foreign investors who want to establish or grow their operations in Quebec.
  • Quebec International: A non-profit organization that promotes the economic development of the Quebec City region by attracting foreign investment, supporting local businesses in their internationalization efforts, and fostering innovation and entrepreneurship.
  • Montreal International: A non-profit organization that supports the economic development of the Greater Montreal area by attracting foreign investment, talent, and organizations; helping local businesses access international markets; and enhancing the city’s global reputation.
  • Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal: A business association that represents more than 8,000 members from various sectors and offers services such as market studies, trade missions, export training workshops.

Quebec Exports: A Snapshot of the Province’s Trade Performance

Quebec is one of Canada’s leading exporters, ranking third among the provinces and territories in terms of the value of its international merchandise shipments. In 2022, Quebec exported $111 billion worth of goods to the world, accounting for 14.5% of Canada’s total exports. Quebec’s main export markets are the United States, China, Japan, Mexico and Australia, and its top export products are aluminum, aircraft, petroleum oils, iron ore and copper.

Quebec’s exports have been growing steadily over the past few years, despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, trade tensions and environmental issues. In the fourth quarter of 2021, Quebec’s exports increased by 12.1% compared to the same period in 2020, reaching $26.8 billion. This growth was driven by strong demand for Quebec’s products in various sectors, such as aerospace, mining, energy and agri-food.

Quebec Exports by Sector

One of Quebec’s most prominent export sectors is aerospace, which includes aircraft, engines, parts and simulators. In 2022, Quebec exported $7.8 billion worth of aerospace products, representing 7% of its total exports and 49% of Canada’s aerospace exports. Quebec is home to several major aerospace companies, such as Bombardier, Pratt & Whitney Canada and CAE, as well as a network of suppliers and research centers. Quebec’s aerospace industry benefits from its skilled workforce, innovation capacity and strategic location.

Another important export sector for Quebec is mining, which encompasses metals, ores and minerals. In 2022, Quebec exported $15.4 billion worth of mining products, accounting for 13.9% of its total exports and 22.5% of Canada’s mining exports. Quebec is rich in natural resources, such as iron ore, copper, gold, nickel and lithium, and has a competitive advantage in producing aluminum from its abundant hydroelectricity. Quebec’s mining industry contributes to the province’s economic development and social well-being.

A third key export sector for Quebec is energy, which includes petroleum oils, electricity and natural gas. In 2022, Quebec exported $9.9 billion worth of energy products, making up 8.9% of its total exports and 6.8% of Canada’s energy exports. Quebec is a net exporter of electricity, mainly to the United States, thanks to its renewable hydroelectric power generation. Quebec also produces and refines petroleum oils from domestic and imported sources.

Quebec Exports: Challenges and Opportunities

Quebec’s export performance is influenced by various factors, both internal and external. Some of the challenges that Quebec faces include:

  • The uncertainty and volatility of global markets due to the COVID-19 pandemic, trade disputes and geopolitical tensions.
  • The rising costs of production and transportation due to inflation, labor shortages and supply chain disruptions.
  • The environmental and social impacts of exporting natural resources and carbon-intensive products.
Some of the opportunities that Quebec can seize include:
  • The recovery and growth of global demand for Quebec’s products as vaccination rates increase and economic activity resumes.
  • The diversification and innovation of Quebec’s export sectors to meet the changing needs and preferences of consumers and businesses.
  • The promotion and enhancement of Quebec’s reputation as a reliable and responsible trading partner that respects human rights and environmental standards.


Essential Topics You Should Be Familiar With:

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