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Canada’s Trade Flows

The dashboard below provides data and analysis on Canada’s trade flows.

Canada’s Trade Flows

Canada’s total bilateral trade in goods in 2016 was approx. CAD$ 1.05 trillion, while the balance of trade (exports minus imports) was –CAD$ 13 billion. Canada’s bilateral trade is highly concentrated both regionally as well as among income groups. North America, Europe and Central Asia, and East Asia together account for about 90% of Canada’s total trade. High income countries account for around 80% of Canada’s total trade.

Hovering (on mouse-over) will show the total trade as well as balance of trade with individual countries. Hover over the trend graph to see how total trade has evolved with particular regions and income groups. Click on country bubbles to see trends over time. Drop down menus can be used to limit and highlight countries in particular regions, income groups or to change the year.

What the data shows

Trade with Sub Saharan Africa and South Asia, while growing, still represents less than 2% of Canada’s trade. Similarly, trade with Low Income Countries account for less than 1.0% of Canada’s total trade. Canada has a negative balance of trade with all regions, with the exceptions of a recently equal balance of trade with South Asia and the Middle East and North Africa, and a large positive trade balance with the United States.

Canada’s trade is also highly concentrated in terms of products traded. Mining and oil and gas extraction dominate Canadian bilateral trade. Canada is one the largest mining nations in the world. Mineral exports account for around 23% of Canadian exports (NRCAN, 2011), and oil and gas exports account for another 20%.

Trends in trade with the poorest countries indicate interesting patterns. Despite accounting for a fraction of Canada’s bilateral trade the value of imports into Canada from the least developed and low income countries (LDCs and LICs using the OECD-DAC list) is twice the amount of aid from Canada to the same countries. Trade policy, specifically trade preferences, are clearly very important for these countries, which include the likes of Bangladesh and Cambodia that have benefited from preferential access.

Ethiopia, Haiti, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, and Madagascar were among the largest LDC/LIC trade partners for Canada in 2016. The top developing country trade partners are: China, Mexico, India, Brazil, Vietnam, Peru, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. Canada had a negative balance of trade with each of these countries. The top trade partners in Africa include: Algeria, Nigeria, South Africa and Angola. Canada had a negative balance of trade with each of these countries with the exception of a small positive balance of trade with Angola ($50M) in 2016


Data is drawn from Industry Canada’s Trade Data Online database, and indicates trade in goods and products. The World Bank’s geographical and income classification system is used. For comparison with aid flows countries were also classified using the OECD-DAC system.

Download the Data


This data is part of ongoing work at The North-South Institute. Comment here, or using the contact form.

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