There’s no denying trade is an important aspect of Canada’s economy in the 21st century. While the Great White North has always relied on its rich base of natural resources, trade in those resources has also been important for a very long time. In fact, one of Canada’s first industries was the fur trade, and fishing was important as well.
Over the years, Canada’s exports have changed time and time again. Today, exports include many natural resources as well as secondary and consumer products, such as steel, cars, and electronics.
Which exports account for the most trade in Canada? Here are Canada’s top five exports.
1. Mineral Fuels
This category includes oil. Over the past decade, the oil & gas industry has expanded exponentially in the Athabasca oil sands. With this fact in mind, it should be no surprise that mineral fuels and oil are Canada’s largest export category.
The majority of fuel is shipped to the US, Canada’s largest trading partner. The US has looked to Canada as a more reliable source of oil for a few decades now. There is concern shale oil production in Colorado will make the US less dependent on foreign fuel sources. The Trans Mountain Pipeline is one way to deal with declining American demand by increasing exports to other countries in Southeast Asia, including China.
Canadian mineral fuels aren’t exported only to the US. You can find them around the world, from Japan and China to the UK and France.
The automotive industry has long been an important part of the landscape in southern Ontario. Despite recent plant closures and downsizing initiatives, the industry remains an important player in the Canadian economy. Vehicles claimed the second spot on the list of Canada’s top exports.
Most Canadian-made vehicles are bound for the US market. Some make their way to other countries, including Mexico.
3. Machinery, Including Computers
When people think of electronics manufacturing, they likely think of Japan or Korea. Sony and Samsung are household names.
What may surprise some is that Canada is a major exporter of all kinds of machinery, including computers and electronics. In fact, some have predicted Canada will undergo an industrial revival into a major electronics manufacturer.
Machinery exports of all sorts amounted to around $62 billion Canadian in 2017.
4. Gems and Precious Metals
Diamonds and gold may not be the first that come to mind when you think about Canada’s exports. They may not even be thought of as one of Canada’s major natural resources. Nonetheless, gems and precious metals ranked within Canada’s top five exports in 2017.
This category includes many mine products and precious ores, so it wasn’t just diamonds and gold driving exports in this category. Canadian mines produce many different products, ranging from lithium to nickel, zinc, and silver, among others.
Canada’s vast forests are an iconic image, and the forest features prominently in the Canadian national imaginary. Canada’s forestry industry is also a vibrant sector that contributed around $17 billion in net trade last year. Wood rounded out Canada’s top five exports in 2017.
Much of Canada’s wood is destined for the US market, where it’s refined into products for the consumer market or bound for construction. In fact, timber was one of the trade issues on the table when the United States reopened NAFTA negotiations last year.
Canadian wood products make their way around the world, especially to European countries where native forests have been depleted, and to Southeast Asia, where demand is growing.
What does the list of Canada’s top five exports make clear? The Canadian economy is still driven by natural resources. The manufacturing industry also plays a key role.