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  The Canadian Economy at a Glance (Updated April 2014)

Do you have any clear idea of what Canada's economy looks like? In terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) what are the percentages from oil and gas, forestry, financial, manufacturing etc.?

What portion of Canadian GDP do imports and exports make up? What products does Canada Import and Export? Which countries are important trading partners of Canada?

The actual figures would likely surprise most Canadians.


What is Canada's GDP by industry or sector?

Canadian Economy Annualized GDP sorted by Industry or Sector as of January 2014


Data Source: Statistics Canada 

From reading the financial news you may have been under the strong impression that Canada's GDP is dominated by the commodities including particularly oil, gas, and various minerals. You may have also heard that manufacturing is no longer such an important component of Canada's economy. (And that therefore we should not worry much about any manufacturing job losses that we hear about).

The actual figures show that "Real estate and rental and leasing" is the largest segment of Canada's economy.

Manufacturing, while it may be lower than in years past, is still a very large portion of GDP and is the second largest component at 10%. (We understand that manufacturing includes refining industries).

Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction is third at 8% of GDP. 

Overall, goods producing industries account for 30% of GDP while services account for 70%. 

Review the rest of the list and you will at least be more knowledgeable about the actual composition of the Canadian economy and the percent contribution of different segments. See the link to the latest available source data just above to see the raw data and you can calculate the precise percentage figures if desired.

Who Consumes Canada's GDP?

Canada's 2013 GDP was consumed in the following fashion:

Personal Consumption                                               56%
Government expenditure                                           22%
Business Investment (buildings and equipment)    20%
Government Investment                                            4%
Net Exports                                                                 -2% 
Total                                                                            100%


When you hear that Consumers "account" for about 56% of Canada's GDP, that does not mean that business accounts for little. In fact Business and (yes) government create the GDP and Consumers consume the largest share. This should not be considered surprising or alarming. Why else should things be produced except for consumption? (and for some investment to fuel future consumption).

A surprisingly large 24% of Canada's GDP consists of investment in longer lasting assets such as buildings (including houses) and equipment rather than being consumed for immediate gratification. This includes replacing worn out buildings and assets which may account for it being so high.

What does Canada Export?


Canadian Economy Goods Exports by Category in 2013


Data Source: Statistics Canada

The largest category of goods exports is Energy Products (oil, natural gas and other) at 24% of total exports. While manufactured goods including vehicles are important it appears that the majority of Canada's exports are in the form of raw materials.

Goods exports amount to 30% of GDP.


Data Source: Statistics Canada

The largest category of service exports (revenue received) is travel, followed by transportation.

Service exports are about 5% of GDP. Together goods exports plus services exports amount to 35% of GDP. This indicates that 65% of what is produced in Canada is consumed in Canada.


To Which Countries Does Canada Export?


Data Source, Statistics Canada

We hear a lot of talk about global trade. We hear about China buying our commodities. But the statistics for 2013 show that the United States still accounted for the vast majority of Canadian exports at 75%. Things may be changing and China may quickly start to be an important  "customer" country for Canada. But the fact is, for now, when it comes to Canadian exports, the United States remains our number one destination by far.


What Does Canada Import?

Canadian Economy Goods Imports by Category


Data Source, Statistics Canada

Canada's goods imports in 2012 were about  29% as large as GDP.  


Canada's service imports in 2013 amounted to 7% of the GDP figure.

In total Canada's goods and services imports are about 36% as large as the GDP figure.

From Which Countries Does the Canada Import Goods?

Data Source, Statistics Canada

The United States accounts for 65% of Canada's imports. The remainder appears to be spread widely around the globe. 


Shawn Allen

InvestorsFriend Inc.

Originally created November 3, 2007, last updated April 4, 2014.


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