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Canadian service exports are on the rise

The proportion of SMEs exporting services is now larger than the proportion of those exporting goods.  In 2017, 59.3% of all exporting SMEs exported services — 46.9% exported only services while 12.4% exported both goods and services. These results represent a notable increase in the proportion of services exporters since 2011.

      2011      2017
Goods only48.9%40.7%
Services only39.1%46.9%
Goods and services12.0%12.4%


Source: Office of the Chief Economist, Global Affairs Canada
Data: Statistics Canada, Survey on Financing and Growth of Small and Medium Enterprises, 2011 and 2017

This change was mostly driven by growth in the share of sectors that are more likely to export services, such as Professional, Scientific and Technical Services and Information, Cultural and Public Services.  These two sectors combined accounted for 36% of all SME exporters in 2011 and 40% in 2017. The proportion of service exporters in both sectors increased; from 51.8% in 2011 to 70.9 in 2017 for Information, Cultural and Public Services; and, from 73.9% to 84.0% for Professional, Scientific and Technical Services. Among exporters of goods and services, the importance of sectors such as Retail Trade and Other Services also increased.

The upshot

In the past few years, services exports have grown in importance worldwide and have been increasing faster than goods exports. The recent trends observed above suggest that Canadian SMEs have been able to take advantage of that growth.

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