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Study: A decade of change in Canadian manufacturing exports, 2002 to 2012

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Released: 2014-03-19

Canadian exports of manufactured products fell by more than 7% from 2002 to 2012, a drop of $20.7 billion. The United States led the decrease, as their imports of Canadian manufactured products declined by $44.8 billion. The share of Canadian manufacturing exports to the United States also declined, falling from 88.0% in 2002 to 78.2% in 2012.

While the US figures declined, exports to other countries rose by $24.1 billion from 2002 to 2012. This recouped more than half of the losses from the United States. The rest of the world's share of Canadian manufacturing exports, outside the United States, grew from 12.0% in 2002 to 21.8% in 2012.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Exports of manufactured goods to the United States - Description and data table
Exports of manufactured goods to the United States

Chart 1: Exports of manufactured goods to the United States - Description and data table

China had the largest increase from 2002 to 2012, more than tripling its imports of Canadian manufactured goods and driving its share of the Canadian total from 0.9% to 3.5%. This moved China into second place among countries purchasing Canadian manufactured goods. In 2012, 20 out of the 21 industries in the manufacturing sector reported that their exports to China exceeded their 2002 levels. Paper, food and wood products manufacturing industries saw their exports to China grow the most.

The member countries of the European Union (EU) also contributed to the growth of Canadian manufacturing exports outside of the United States. EU member countries imported nearly $5 billion more of Canadian manufactured goods in 2012 than in 2002. This was the second largest increase after China, and pushed the EU share of exports of Canadian manufactured goods from 4.5% to 6.5%.

The United Kingdom, which accounted for the largest share of Canadian manufactured goods imported into the EU from 2002 to 2012, saw imports rise by $1.4 billion. The Netherlands, however, saw imports of Canadian manufactured products rise at a faster pace, up $1.5 billion during the same period.

The Netherlands and the United Kingdom accounted for over 63% of the gain in Canadian manufacturing exports to the EU from 2002 to 2012. From an industry perspective, the petroleum and coal product and the primary metal manufacturing industries were responsible for over three-quarters of the gain.

Manufacturing sector exports are more diversified

Of the 21 industries in the manufacturing sector, 15 recorded lower exports from 2002 to 2012. The largest decline was in the transportation equipment manufacturing industry, with exports falling by $26.1 billion, representing a 7.0 percentage point drop in its share of total manufacturing exports. Excluding the transportation equipment industry, manufacturing exports grew by $5.4 billion between 2002 and 2012.

While 14 of the other 20 industries (excluding transportation equipment) posted declines during this period, several industries had large enough gains to partially offset the decline in exports in the manufacturing sector. This included the primary metal, chemical, petroleum and coal product and food manufacturing industries. In the first three industries, increased exports were accompanied by higher prices.

Canadian exports from the primary metal, chemical, petroleum and coal product and food manufacturing industries partially offset the dollar losses registered by the transportation equipment manufacturing industry. These four industries combined accounted for 38.6% of exports of Canadian manufactured goods in 2012, up from 22.2% in 2002. On the other hand, the transportation equipment industry's share fell from 34.1% in 2002 to 27.1% in 2012.

The study "2002-2012: A Decade of Change in Canadian Manufacturing Exports," part of Analysis in Brief (Catalogue number11-621-M), is now available from the Browse by key resource module of our website under Publications.

Contact information

For more information, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300;

To enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact Benoît Carrière (613-951-6841;, International Trade Division.

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