Canada’s Top 10 Exports

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Canada’s Top 10 Exports
Canada’s Top 10 Exports

Exports from the country nicknamed the Great White North amounted to US$408.7 billion in 2015, down -9.3% since 2011 including a precipitous -13.7% drop from 2014 to 2015. Canada’s top 10 exports accounted for 62% of the overall value of its global shipments.

Based on statistics from the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook Database, Canada’s total Gross Domestic Product amounted to $1.628 trillion as of November 2015.

Therefore, exports accounted for about 25.1% of total Canadian economic output.

From a continental perspective, 78% of Canadian exports (by value) were delivered to its North American Free Trade Agreement partners, United States and Mexico. Europe bought an 11% share of Canada’s exports in 2015, followed by Asian importers at 8%.

Given Canada’s population of 35.1 million people, its total $408.7 billion in 2015 exports translates to roughly $11,645 for every resident in that country.

Canada’s unemployment rate was 7.2% as of January 2016.

TOP 10

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Canadian global shipments during 2015. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Canada.

  1. Oil: US$77.8 billion (19% of total exports)
  2. Vehicles: $60 billion (14.7%)
  3. Machines, engines, pumps: $31.1 billion (7.6%)
  4. Gems, precious metals: $19 billion (4.7%)
  5. Electronic equipment: $13.2 billion (3.2%)
  6. Plastics: $12.5 billion (3.1%)
  7. Aircraft, spacecraft: $12.3 billion (3%)
  8. Wood: $11.8 billion (2.9%)
  9. Aluminum: $8.2 billion (2%)
  10. Paper: $7.7 billion (1.9%)

Wood the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up 28.5% for the 5-year period starting in 2011.

In second place for improving export sales was aircraft and spacecraft which was up 25.7%.

Canadian-made vehicles posted the third-fastest gain at 13.4%, led by cars and auto parts.

Sliding -32.9% in value, oil led the declining categories among the top 10 Canadian exports. Also posting decreases were gems and precious metals (down -23.5%), paper (down -21.7%), aluminum (down -16.9%), electronic equipment (down -14.2%) and machinery (down -1.2%).


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 is 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.

  1. Oil: US$48.2 billion (Down by -23.3% since 2011)
  2. Wood: $8.8 billion (Up by 41.6%)
  3. Gems, precious metals: $8.1 billion (Up by 12%)
  4. Cereals: $6.5 billion (Up by 2.7%)
  5. Oil seed: $6 billion (Down by -2%)
  6. Woodpulp: $6 billion (Down by -17.6%)
  7. Fertilizers: $4.8 billion (Down by -29%)
  8. Aluminum: $4.3 billion (Down by -31.1%)
  9. Ores, slag, ash: $3.8 billion (Down by -26.7%)
  10. Nickel: $3.7 billion (Down by -40.2%)

Canada has highly positive net exports in the international trade of crude oil and petroleum gases but typically runs billion-dollar deficits for refined oil products. The positive cashflows indicate Canada’s strong competitive advantages in raw resources segments of the energy market.


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.

  1. Machines, engines, pumps: -US$32.2 billion (Down by -2% since 2011)
  2. Electronic equipment: -$28.1 billion (Down by -6.7%)
  3. Vehicles: -$7 billion (Down by -38.9%)
  4. Medical, technical equipment: -$6.1 billion (Down by -9.5%)
  5. Iron or steel products: -$4.8 billion (Down by -22.7%)
  6. Knit or crochet clothing: -$4.1 billion (Up by 6%)
  7. Alcoholic beverages: -$3.9 billion (Up by 3.7%)
  8. Fruits, nuts: -$3.9 billion (Up by 12.6%)
  9. Pharmaceuticals: -$3.8 billion (Down by -45.3%)
  10. Clothing (not knit or crochet): -$3.6 billion (Down by -1.1%)

Canada has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for computer data processing machines of myriad types and sizes. This is also true for heavy construction equipment like bulldozers.

These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Canada’s competitive disadvantages in the international machinery market, 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:

  • Suncor Energy (oil, gas)
  • Canadian Natural Resources (oil, gas)
  • Magna International (automotive parts)
  • Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (specialized chemicals)
  • Barrick Gold (diversified metals, mining)
  • Encana (oil, gas)
  • Saputo (dairy products)
  • Cameco (uranium)
  • Bombardier Inc. (aerospace, transit vehicles)

According to global trade intelligence firm Zepol, the following smaller companies are also examples of leading Canadian exporters for 2014:

  • Weyerhaeuser (wood, chemical woodpulp)
  • Interex Forest Products (wood, strand board)
  • West Fraser Mills (wood, chemical woodpulp)



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