Canada imports and exports millions of pounds of goods each and every year. In fact, it’s the 13th largest import and export country in the world. That means Canada is brimming with exciting prospects for promising entrepreneurs like you to find a niche and create a lucrative import-export business.
You might be wondering about Canada’s top imports and exports, as well as their key trading partners. Perhaps you’ll be inspired to choose one of these common imports or exports as your primary product…or maybe you’ll forge a completely new path.
Canada Imports – Top Categories
- Cars—$28 billion (USD)
- Car parts and accessories—$20 billion (USD)
- Trucks—$15 billion (USD)
- Crude oil—$14 billion (USD)
- Processed petroleum oil—$14 billion (USD)
- Phones—$11 billion (USD)
- Computers—$9 billion (USD)
- Medications—$8 billion (USD)
- Turbo-jets—$6 billion (USD)
- Gold—$6 billion (USD)
Overall, Canada’s top import is cars, not to mention car parts, car accessories, and trucks, which rank just below. It might seem overwhelming to import a product as large as a vehicle, but it’s actually quite feasible…if you get all your ducks in a row. There’s ample opportunity for new importers to break into the Canadian market and snag a piece of the automotive market share. Another huge import category is digital products such as phones and computers. If you’re interested in importing digital products to Canada, you’ll need to carefully research the requirements (especially during COVID-19), including energy efficiency reports and labeling requirements. If you’re a US company or other company located outside Canada, it’s advisable to become a non-resident importer of record.
Canada Exports – Top Categories
- Crude oil—$68 billion (USD)
- Cars—$41 billion (USD)
- Gold—$15 billion (USD)
- Processed petroleum oil—$12 billion (USD)
- Car parts and accessories—$11 billion (USD)
- Petroleum gas—$9 billion (USD)
- Medications—$7 billion (USD)
- Aircraft and spacecraft—$7 billion (USD)
- Turbo-jets—$6 billion (USD)
- Sawn wood—$6 billion (USD)
Cars are near the top of the list again, showing that Canada exports even more cars than it imports. Maybe you’re wondering whether it’s better for a business to import cars into Canada or to export cars from Canada. Thanks to NAFTA, both are duty-free if the cars were manufactured in North America, but you’ll still need to pay Goods and Service Tax (GST) when importing to Canada along with other potential taxes. The list of documents is slightly longer when exporting from Canada, however. Do your research and find out which kind of car import-export business is ideal for you.
Medications are also a growing sector of Canadian imports. Because prescription drugs are so much more expensive in the US than Canada, Americans are eager to find a cheaper solution. Importing pharmaceuticals to the US can be quite controversial, however. On the one hand, Canada worries their prescription drug supply might run out. On the other hand, US groups worry imported medications won’t meet strict safety standards. If you’re considering entering the pharmaceutical import-export industry, be aware of the complex regulations that need to be carefully followed.
Canada’s Top 5 Trading Partners
- United States—$337 billion (USD) (75.4% of total Canadian exports)
- China—$18 billion (USD) (3.9% of total Canadian exports)
- United Kingdom—US $15 billion (3.3% of total Canadian exports)
- Japan—US$9 billion (2.1% of total Canadian exports)
- Mexico—US$6 billion (1.2% of total Canadian exports)
The US and China are the top two importers as well as the top two exporters of Canadian goods. It’s important to note that the US is Canada’s most important trading partner, mainly because of the heavily integrated supply chains between Canada and the US. There’s practically unlimited potential for trade between the two countries. Whether you’re exporting goods from Canada or importing goods into Canada for resale, your business has the capacity to expand greatly if you offer desirable products.
When it comes to China’s relationship with Canada, it’s marked by the huge amount of imports to Canada that are manufactured in China. If you become involved with importing from China to Canada, make sure you find a reliable supplier and build a professional relationship with them.