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International trade in environmental and clean technology products by origin and destination, 2021

Released: 2023-02-14

Canada exported $17.9 billion of environmental and clean technology (ECT) products in 2021 ($3.2 billion more than one year ago), accounting for 2.3% of total Canadian exports. Imports of ECT products reached $21.8 billion, representing 2.8% of total Canadian imports. As a result, Canada had a $3.9 billion trade deficit in ECT products in 2021, down slightly (-$740.6 million) from 2020.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Canadian trade in environmental and clean technology products by world region, 2021
Canadian trade in environmental and clean technology products by world region, 2021

The majority of Canadian environmental and clean technology product exports are destined for the United States

Canada exported $13.6 billion worth of ECT products to the United States in 2021, up $2.7 billion from one year earlier. This number represented just over three-quarters (75.7%) of total Canadian exports of ECT products in 2021.

Environmental goods ($6.4 billion) accounted for almost half (47.0%) of the exports to the United States, followed by manufactured goods associated with clean technologies ($5.8 billion), clean technology services ($1.3 billion) and waste management and remediation services ($140.3 million).

Exports of clean electricity (part of the environmental goods group) totalled $2.5 billion, or just under one-fifth (18.4%), of total ECT product exports to the United States in 2021.

Scientific and research and development services represented 68.8% of all clean technology services exported to the United States, valued at $883.4 million.

In 2021, Europe was Canada's second-largest export partner, receiving over one-tenth ($2.1 billion) of the total ECT exports. Three countries combined purchased just over half of these exports that year, the United Kingdom (19.3%), Norway (17.4%) and the Netherlands (14.5%).

Canada exported $305.4 million of ECT products to China in 2021, accounting for almost one-fifth (19.6%) of the exports destined for Asia. The country was Canada's largest export partner for Asia, followed by India ($255.3 million).

Most Canadian environmental and clean technology products are imported from the United States

In 2021, Canada imported $15.1 billion worth of ECT products from the United States, representing over two-thirds (69.3%) of its total ECT product imports. The largest share of imports consisted of manufactured goods associated with clean technologies ($8.2 billion) and biofuels and primary goods ($3.2 billion). This ranking was relatively unchanged from one year earlier.

Other major regions for the import of ECT products were Asia (15.1% or $3.3 billion) and Europe (10.1% or $2.2 billion). Canada's principal import partners in Asia were China, Japan and South Korea, while for Europe, they were Germany and the United Kingdom.

  Note to readers

The Environmental and Clean Technology Products Economic Account (ECTPEA) measures the economic contribution of environmental and clean technology (ECT) products in terms of output, gross domestic product, employment (number of jobs) and other economic variables. Estimates are directly comparable with national results for the Canadian economy. The trade estimates released today provide country of origin and destination detail of the export and import values already released in table 36-10-0629-01.

Estimates for 2020 and 2021 are preliminary and will be revised when updated data become available, including the supply and use tables for those reference years.

In February 2023, the dataset was revised to include waste and scrap goods for recycling in the environmental product subsector. This product was originally reported in the clean technology products subsector.

ECT products are defined as any process, product or service that reduces environmental impacts through any of the following three strategies: environmental protection activities that prevent, reduce or eliminate pollution or any other degradation of the environment; resource management activities that result in the more efficient use of natural resources, thus safeguarding against their depletion; or the use of goods that have been adapted to be significantly less energy or resource intensive than the industry standard.

Two broad categories of ECT products are traded: environmental goods and services (including clean electricity, biofuels and primary goods, waste goods, and waste management and remediation services) and clean technology goods and services (including manufactured goods, scientific and research and development services, construction services, and support services). The products follow the Supply and Use Product Classification used in the Canadian System of Macroeconomic Accounts.

As part of the Government of Canada's initiative to develop the Clean Technology Data Strategy, the ECTPEA provides comprehensive measures of the supply and use of environmental and clean technology products in the Canadian economy. The ECTPEA has a broader scope than the Survey of Environmental Goods and Services because it captures all economy-wide transactions in the ECT products sector, including elements such as clean energy and scrap goods. The government and non-profit sectors are also fully covered in the ECTPEA.

The compilation of the ECTPEA draws on a variety of data sources, including Statistics Canada's supply and use tables, detailed import and export statistics released in Canada's balance of international payments, and the Survey of Environmental Goods and Services.

Examples of environmental goods and services and clean technologies are available in the publication Clean technologies and the Survey of Environmental Goods and Services: A technical reference guide (Catalogue number16-511-X).

Contact information

For more information, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality of this release, contact us (toll-free 1-800-263-1136; 514-283-8300; infostats@statcan.gc.ca) or Media Relations (statcan.mediahotline-ligneinfomedias.statcan@statcan.gc.ca).

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