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International Trade in Canada

By: Janice Bandick

Published On: March 30, 2015

The past hundred years have brought incredible changes in nearly every industry and area of society, and international trade is no exception. Due to increasing globalization, international trade is now faster, more efficient and more reliable, due to four main factors:

  1. Simpler domestic and international transportation.
  2. Advancements in communications, logistics and supply chain technologies.
  3. Improved geo-political relations and the introduction of various trade agreements.
  4. Increased ability to maximize a company’s global potential.

According to Forbes, Canada is the best country in the G-20 to do business. Canada’s standing as a business friendly locale has improved thanks to recent tax reforms. It also scores highly as far as trade freedom, investor protection, low corruption and minimal red tape. Canada led all G-7 countries in economic growth over the past decade (2003–2012). According to the Global Markets Action Plan, international trade represents more than 60 percent of Canada's GDP, and one in five jobs in Canada is linked to exports.

international trade

With low tax rates (17% lower than that of the United States), a highly educated population, and unparalleled market access, Canada is a great place to invest.

Canada currently has free trade agreements in force with more than 10 countries, including Korea, Honduras, Panama, Mexico and the United States of America (Canada’s most significant trading partner).


In 2013 Canada’s exports grew 3.7 percent reaching $472 billion, and almost 80 percent of Canada’s exports were sent to its top five export destinations:

  1. United States (62%)
  2. China (7.0%)
  3. Japan (3.6%)
  4. United Kingdom (2.7%)
  5. Mexico (2.5%)

Resources and resource-based goods continued to make up the majority (59.9 percent) of Canada’s exports.


The majority of Canada’s imports continue to be of the non-resource variety. Imports like vehicles, crude petroleum, computers, and gold topped the list of products imported to Canada in 2013. Growth was particularly notable in imports of aircraft (up 17.6 percent to $15 billion) and consumer goods (up 5.2 percent to $97 billion).

Top 5 Top 5 Import origins of Canada

  1. United States (46%)
  2. China (14%)
  3. Mexico (5.4%)
  4. Japan (4.1%)
  5. Germany (3.8%)

World Trade Organization

Canada is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), a rules-based member-driven international organization that deals with the rules of trade between its 160 Members. A member since 1995, Canada maintains a Permanent Mission to the WTO in Geneva, Switzerland.

The WTO administers the WTO trade agreements, provides a forum for trade negotiations, handles trade disputes, monitors national trade policies, and administers technical assistance and training for developing countries.



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