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Trade Profile

In this page: Foreign Trade in Figures | Trade Compliance | Standards

 

Foreign Trade in Figures

Canada is a country open to foreign trade, which represents 62.4% of its GDP (WTO, 2012-2014 average).

The United States receives about 80% of Canadian exports. Canada is the largest supplier of energy to the United States, including oil, gas, uranium and electric power. Its other main trade partners are China, the United Kingdom, Japan and Mexico. In 2015, Canada signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement and a bilateral agreement with Ukraine.

Due to the global economic crisis, the Canadian trade balance turned negative as exports fell faster than imports. This balance remained negative in 2014 due to the slow pace of the economic recovery in the United States and difficulties in the Eurozone. In 2014, merchandise exports and imports rose relatively steadily, whereas exports and imports in the services sector declined. Canadian exports benefited from the depreciation of the Canadian dollar; at the same time, foreign trade was impacted by the negative effects of the drop in the global prices of hydrocarbons. The trade balance in 2015 is likely to remain negative.

 
Foreign Trade Indicators 20112012201320142015
Imports of Goods (million USD) 463,640476,296475,778479,985436,372
Exports of Goods (million USD) 451,335455,592458,318474,725408,475
Imports of Services (million USD) 105,957110,621111,547106,72195,405
Exports of Services (million USD) 83,66587,76588,72285,18176,292
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 5.63.61.62.20.3
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 4.82.62.75.83.4
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 31.832.231.832.634.0
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 30.630.230.231.631.6
Trade Balance (million USD) 403-13,292-7,8653,518-18,043
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 62.362.462.064.265.5

Source: World Trade Organisation (WTO) - 2016; World Bank - 2016

 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2016
United States 76.2%
China 4.1%
United Kingdom 3.3%
Japan 2.1%
Mexico 1.5%
South Korea 0.8%
India 0.8%
Germany 0.8%
France 0.7%
Belgium 0.6%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2016
United States 52.2%
China 12.1%
Mexico 6.2%
Germany 3.2%
Japan 3.0%
South Korea 2.0%
United Kingdom 1.5%
Italy 1.4%
France 1.1%
Vietnam 0.9%

Source: Comtrade, 2015

 

Main Products

388.9 bn USD of products exported in 2016
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 12.6%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude 10.2%
Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought or not further worked than semi-manufactured or in powder form 3.2%
Parts and accessories for tractors, motor vehicles for the transport of ten or more persons, motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, motor vehicles for the transport of goods and special purpose motor vehicles of heading 8701 to 8705, n.e.s. 2.7%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 2.1%
Petroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbons 2.0%
Wood sawn or chipped lengthwise, sliced or barked, whether or not planed, sanded or end-jointed, of a thickness of > 6 mm 2.0%
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses incl. those in the form of transdermal administration or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 1.9%
Powered aircraft e.g. helicopters and aeroplanes; spacecraft, incl. satellites, and suborbital and spacecraft launch vehicles 1.6%
Turbo-jets, turbo-propellers and other gas turbines 1.3%
403.0 bn USD of products imported in 2016
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 6.6%
Parts and accessories for tractors, motor vehicles for the transport of ten or more persons, motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, motor vehicles for the transport of goods and special purpose motor vehicles of heading 8701 to 8705, n.e.s. 5.1%
Motor vehicles for the transport of goods, incl. chassis with engine and cab 3.2%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 2.7%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude 2.7%
Automatic data processing machines and units thereof; magnetic or optical readers, machines for transcribing data onto data media in coded form and machines for processing such data, n.e.s. 2.2%
Medicaments consisting of mixed or unmixed products for therapeutic or prophylactic uses, put up in measured doses incl. those in the form of transdermal administration or in forms or packings for retail sale (excl. goods of heading 3002, 3005 or 3006) 1.8%
Transmission apparatus for radio-telephony, radio-telegraphy, radio-broadcasting or television, whether or not incorporating reception apparatus or sound recording or reproducing apparatus; television cameras; still image video cameras and other video camera recorders; digital cameras 1.5%
Gold, incl. gold plated with platinum, unwrought or not further worked than semi-manufactured or in powder form 1.4%
Spark-ignition reciprocating or rotary internal combustion piston engine 1.2%

Source: Comtrade, 2015

 
 
 

Main Services

289.0 bn USD of services exported in 2014
Other business services
34.36%
Travel
21.53%
Transportation
15.31%
Computer and information services
8.37%
Financial services
5.83%
Royalties and license fees
5.33%
Cultural and recreational services
2.48%
Communications services
2.44%
Insurance services
1.93%
Government services
1.70%
Construction services
0.72%
374.8 bn USD of services imported in 2014
Travel
32.13%
Transportation
20.68%
Other business services
20.12%
Royalties and license fees
10.53%
Financial services
4.67%
Insurance services
3.90%
Computer and information services
3.39%
Cultural and recreational services
1.94%
Communications services
1.58%
Government services
0.68%
Construction services
0.36%

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Last Available Data

 

Exchange Rate System

Local Currency
Canadian dollar (CAD)
Exchange Rate Regime
The Bank of Canada controls and establishes the regulations concerning transfers of capital with foreign countries. There is free convertibility of currency, the right to transfer profits, capital, dividends, interest and fees.
Level of Currency Instability
The changes Canadian companies are facing are unprecedented. The meteoric rise in value of the Canadian dollar, the uncertainty of the world energy market, the tightening of credit, the slowing down of the American economy and the weakness of the whole of the manufacturing sector are all conditions which favor the instability of the Canadian dollar.
 
 
Monetary Indicators 20112012201320142015
Canadian dollar (CAD) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 USD 0.991.001.031.111.28

Source: World Bank - 2016.

 
 

Trade Compliance

International Conventions
Member of World Trade Organisation
Member of OECD
Party to the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
Party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
Party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer
Party to the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls For Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies
Main International Economic Cooperation
NAFTA Trilateral
Member of the NACC (North American Competitiveness Council)
Full member of the OAS (Organization of American States)
Member of the Commonwealth
Participates in the forums of the APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation)
Free Trade Agreement with Jordan
Free Trade Agreement with Panama

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)

Party of the ATA Convention on Temporary Admissions and Use of the Carnets
Yes

As a Reminder, the ATA is a System Allowing the Free Movement of Goods Across Frontiers and Their Temporary Admission Into a Customs Territory With Relief From Duties and Taxes. The Goods Are Covered By a Single Document Known as the ATA Carnet That is Secured By an International Guarantee System.
Look Up the Other Member Countries And Read the Web Pages of the World Customs Organization Devoted to the ATA Carnet.
Party of the TIR Convention
Canada still belongs to the TIR Convention, but the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) does not accept the TIR carnet as a cargo control document for import, movement in transit, and export of goods.

As a Reminder, the TIR Convention and its Transit Regime Contribute to the Facilitation of International Transport, Especially International Road Transport, Not Only in Europe and the Middle East, But Also in Other Parts of the World, Such as Africa and Latin America.
The UNCTAD Website Allows You to Read the TIR Convention, See the List of Member Countries And to Find Further Information.
Accompanying Documents For Imports
Goods must be accompanied by the following documents:
- the Single Administrative Document (SAD)
- the commercial or Customs invoice (in 4 copies, in English or in French);
- a phytosanitary certificate ( for fruit, vegetables, seeds and other plants);
- a health certificate ( for meat);
- a certificate of non-radioactive contamination (for meat, fruit and vegetables)
- the transport documents and packing list.

For any shipment with a value over 1,600 CAD, you must provide:
- either a commercial invoice (it shows all the information on the Customs invoice)
- or a commercial invoice plus a Customs invoice
- or a Customs invoice (which must contain all the required information).

Shipments with a value under 1,600 CAD can clear Customs on presentation of the commercial invoice. The Canadian ten figure classification must be included on the invoice.
Free Zones
The bonded warehouses of the Canadian Customs service are located in ports, airports and near American border posts.
For Further Information
Canada Border Services Agency
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
Non Tariff Barriers
The Canada Customs Act which regulates the Canadian import system, corresponds to a free trade model in which most imports do not require an authorisation. However, tariff quotas may be applied, especially for wheat, barley, beef and cheese. To be granted this quota one must request a General Import Permit, for which you must produce a pro forma invoice from the Export and Import Controls Bureau of the Ministry of Global Affairs.

Canada uses supply management systems - which involve production quotas, producer marketing boards to regulate price and supply, and border protection achieved through tariff-rate quotas (TRQs) - to regulate its dairy, chicken, turkey and egg industries. Alcoholic beverages are subject to interprovincial shipping restrictions, and are regulated differently in each province, for example through sales quotas, requirements for in-province agents and specific labelling. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) imposes quotas that determine both the minimum Canadian programming expenditure (CPE) and the minimum amount of Canadian programming that licensed Canadian broadcasters must carry (Exhibition Quota).

Some goods are prohibited, especially importing second hand motorised vehicles, except for vehicles coming from the USA (the rules are becoming more flexible for Mexico), as well as weapons, munitions, nuclear materials and goods of a similar nature. Health Canada restricts the marketing of breakfast cereals and other products, such as orange juice, that are fortified with vitamins and/or minerals at certain levels. Processed Products Regulations prescribe standard container sizes for a wide range of processed fruit and vegetable products.

The rules of origin allowing reduction of duties, especially for textiles, have been draconian since the agreements within the NAFTA (annex 401 on the original rules, incorporated afterwards in national legislation). These rules are considerably favourable to products which have proof of their origin in the USA.

Moreover, Canada is one of the biggest users of anti-dumping measures, with more than 85 products concerned (SIMA, Special Import Measures Act). These measures affect 35 countries or Customs areas (including the EU, for example). More than 50% of the products concerned are metallurgical.

For further information about import regulations and procedures in Canada, please consult the article Importing Goods into Canada produced by the Canada Border Services Agency.

Sectors or Products For Which Commercial Disagreements Have Been Registered With the WTO
Agricultural products: cereals, salmon, meat, pork, grain, syrup, wheat, seal, lumber.
Biotechnologies, Aeronautics, Asbestos, Pharmaceutical products, Automobile parts.
Assessment of Commercial Policy
Country’s commercial policy, as seen by the WTO.
Barriers to exchanges, inventoried by the EU
Sanitary and phytosanitary barriers, inventoried by the EU

Learn more about How to Export to Canada on Globaltrade.net, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

 

Standards

National Standards Organisations
The Standards Council of Canada (SCC) 
Underwriter's Laboratory of Canada
Canadian Standards Association
Bureau de Normalisation du Québec (BNQ)
Integration in the International Standards Network
Member of ISO, 381 sectors, products.
Member of IEC.
Member of the International Communication UnionConsult the WSSN website
Obligation to Use Standards
Some standards are mandatory such as those for fertilizers, others are voluntary and depend on the manufacturers' desire to commit themselves to observing them, as is the case, for example, for vehicles.
Classification of Standards
CSA marking
UL marking
Assessment of the System of Standardization
Canadians are more and more aware of standards, especially standards which concern their safety and their food. Most consumers are well informed and ensure that the products they buy or consume meet Canadian standards.
Online Consultation of Standards
Standards Store of the Standards Council of Canada (SCC)
CSA bookstore
ISO Catalog
Certification Organisations
Canadian General Standards Board
Underwriter's Laboratory of Canada
Canadian Standards Association

 

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Last Updates: June 2017