Trade Talk: The Numbers

Trade Talk: The Numbers

Canada-U.S. Border

Trucks pass through the U.S. Customs inspection facility at Champlain, N.Y. in 2007. (Paul Chiasson/THE CANADIAN PRESS)


July 25, 2017 1:45pmET

Numbers and dollar figures abound when it comes to trade between Canada, the United States, and Mexico.

Here are more key statistics to consider as the countries prepare to re-negotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA):


More than three-quarters of all Canadian exports (76.3 per cent) in 2016 went to the United States, versus 1.5 per cent to Mexico. (Global Affairs Canada)

$3.5 billion and $20.2 billion

For merchandise trade with the U.S., Canada had a $3.5-billion surplus alone in May 2017, based on nearly $69 billion in total imports and exports. There was a $1.1-billion merchandise deficit with Mexico.

For the first five months of 2017, Canada’s merchandise surplus with the U.S. reached $20.2 billion CAD, based on $332.3 billion in total trade.  But Canada continues to have a trade deficit in services: $4.4 billion in the first quarter of 2017, based on $32.7 billion of activity. (Statistics Canada)

$341.3 billion

There were 35,203 Canadian business that exported $341.3 billion to the U.S. in 2016. The vast majority of enterprises employ 500 or fewer people, though the majority of exports come from larger firms. (Statistics Canada)

Canada-U.S. trade in goods decreased in 2016, but trade in services increased. Canada’s top exports were automotive products, mineral fuels and oil, mechanical machinery, plastics, and wood products. Top imports were automotive products, mechanical machinery, mineral fuels and oil, electrical machinery, and plastics.

Canadian energy exports to the U.S. fell by $18 billion in 2016 — though auto-related exports grew by $6.3 billion, and wood products rose by $2.3 billion (Global Affairs Canada)


The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) claims $628 billion USD in goods and services were traded with Canada in 2016. A U.S. goods deficit was offset by a larger services surplus, for a total U.S. trade surplus of $12.5 billion USD. Canada-U.S. trade has increased by over 150 per cent since NAFTA came into effect, according to the USTR.

1.6 million

An estimated 1.6 million American jobs were supported by Canada-U.S. trade in 2015, according to the USTR. Canada is the United States’ top agricultural export market.

Meanwhile, U.S.-Mexico trade reached an estimated $580 billion USD in 2016, with a $55.6-billion U.S. deficit. U.S. exports to Mexico have increased by 455 per cent since NAFTA came into effect, according to the USTR.

$25.6 billion

Canadian exports to Mexico grew 14 per cent in 2016 — but Canada’s merchandise trade deficit with Mexico reached $25.6 billion CAD, second only to the deficit with China. (Global Affairs Canada)


Here’s how Canada-U.S. trade arrived at market in 2016:

Road      62.1%

Rail         17.3%

Other    11.4%

Air          5.6%

Marine 3.5%

(Transport Canada: Transportation in Canada 2016)

$282.9 billion / $111.6 billion

Exports to the United States in 2016 from eastern provinces reached $282.9 billion versus $111.6 billion from the west. (Transport Canada: Transportation in Canada 2016)

104 million

Rail was used to ship 104 million tonnes between Canada and the United States in 2016. (Transport Canada: Transportation in Canada 2016)

-Andrew Thomson