Export, Innovate, Invest - The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service

Exports across the Great White North

Canada’s export-to-GDP ratio was the second highest of the G7 countries in 2012 — at 25 percent of GDP, behind only Germany. Yet, as shown, export intensity varies extensively across provinces.

Provincial Share of Canadian Merchandise Exports in 2012
Ontario41.1%
Alberta21.2%
Quebec14.0%
British Colombia7.0%
Saskatchewan6.9%
New Brunswick3.3%
Manitoba2.5%
Newfoundland & Labrador2.5%
Nova Scotia0.8%
Territories0.5%
Prince Edward Island0.2%

Provincial Merchandise Exports as a Percentage of GDP

Data: Statistics Canada
Source: Office of the Chief Economist, DFATD

New Brunswick was the most export-intensive province for the second consecutive year in 2012, with a merchandise export-to-GDP ratio of 47 percent. This performance was largely due to non-crude oil exports, which represented 66 percent of New Brunswick’s total merchandise exports in 2012. Since 2007 (with the exception of the post-crisis year in 2009), New Brunswick’s export-to-GDP ratio has remained over 40 percent. New Brunswick’s high export-intensity may partly reflect its role as an air and road transportation hub for Maritime exports to the United States, the largest export destination for Maritime products. Still, New Brunswick’s economic size is relatively small and its exports only accounted for some 3 percent of total Canadian exports in 2012.

After New Brunswick, Saskatchewan is the next most export-intensive province with an export-to-GDP ratio of 40 percent. While oil (mostly crude oil) is also Saskatchewan’s top export, potash, and cereals (primarily wheat) are also important exports for the province. Together these three commodities represented 69 percent of Saskatchewan’s total exports in 2012. During the past five years, Saskatchewan’s export-to-GDP ratio was consistently above 35 percent.

Canada’s largest exporters — Ontario and Alberta — are less export-intensive than New Brunswick and Saskatchewan, but still above the national average. Ontario, the largest economy and largest exporter in Canada, posted an export-to-GDP ratio of 28 percent in 2012, while Alberta exported an equivalent of 31 percent of its GDP.

On the other hand, Manitoba, Quebec, Prince Edward Island, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, the Yukon, and Nunavut all displayed export-to-GDP ratios less than the national average in 2012, ranging from 1 percent in Nunavut to 20 percent in Manitoba.

The Upshot

On the export front, New Brunswick’s economy may be small, but it is mighty — its merchandise export-to-GDP ratio is consistently among the highest of all provinces and it was the most export-intensive province in 2012. Likewise, Saskatchewan’s export-to-GDP ratio consistently remained amongst the highest of all provinces in the last five years and was second in 2012.

For more information, visit Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada’s Office of the Chief Economist.

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