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This page contains information about Canada’s Global Commerce Strategy (2007-2013). To learn about Canada’s new trade plan, visit Global Markets Action Plan.

United States of America

PDF (2.31 MB)Footnote * | Market Reports

Washington, D.C.

The United States  remains the largest and wealthiest economy in the world. U.S. consumer demand for goods and services is considerable, even in light of recent economic downturn. The American manufacturing sector is one the world’s largest and its demand for high-quality manufacturing inputs is also strong. The U.S. is one of the world leaders in science and technology, accounting for one third of global research and development spending among OECD members (OECD 2010, Main S&T indicators, vol. 2010/11). It represents the primary source of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Canada. U.S. innovation networks have long drawn on this vast pool of capital to build an unparalleled track record in the commercialization of new ideas. Given the many global enterprises with a U.S. presence, the U.S. market provides Canadian companies with excellent access to global value chains. As other countries continue to deepen their trade links with the U.S., the competitive advantage Canada has enjoyed as a partner in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) will erode. At the same time, U.S. concerns about border security, product safety, the recent economic downturn as well as currency fluctuation have created uncertainties in the U.S. market. Due to the size, dynamism and proximity of the U.S. market, our southern neighbour will remain Canada’s most important economic partner and largest source of commercial opportunity.

Commercial Relations, 2009

  • Canada’s bilateral goods and services trade with the U.S. was $592.8 billion.
  • Canadian goods and services exports to the U.S. were $306.6 billion, while imports were $286.2 billion
  • Canada’s exports of goods and services to the U.S. are equivalent to 20 percent of our gross domestic product (GDP).
  • The U.S. receives 70.2 percent of Canadian goods and services, and 61.7 percent of Canada’s goods and services imports come from the U.S
  • About 28.7 percent of Canada-U.S. trade is now said to be “intra-firm” trade with inputs and outputs crossing the border multiple times during production cycles.
  • The U.S. is the largest foreign investor in Canada and the most popular destination for Canadian investment abroad. In 2009, the stock of American direct investment in Canada was close to $288.3 billion, while Canadian direct investment holdings in the U.S. reached $261.3 billion.

Market Opportunities

The Government of Canada has identified the U.S. as a GCS priority market—based on extensive consultation with government, academic and Canadian business and industry representatives—and has developed a comprehensive Market Plan that identifies the following sectors as offering clear market opportunities well suited to Canadian capabilities and interests in the country:

  • Aerospace and Defence: The U.S. is the single largest market for Canadian aerospace and defence companies, accounting for 59 percent of the sector’s exports in 2009.
  • Agriculture, Food and Beverages: Canada is the largest exporter of food products to the U.S., many of which are processed and sold through supply chains that span the globe.
  • Bio-Industries: With the largest health care market in the world, deep pools of investment capital and a strong record in the commercialization of research and development, the U.S. is the number one market for Canadian life science companies.
  • Clean-technologies: Encompassing environmental industries and renewable energy, the U.S. offers significant growth and innovation potential for Canadian companies.
  • Green Building: The green building market require Canadian companies able to differentiate their product offering. Demand for green and energy efficient technologies covers the construction of new houses, the retrofitting of buildings and more stringent building codes.
  • Information and Communication Technology (ICT): In the first Quarter of 2010, 63 percent of Canadian ICT goods were exported to the United States, according to Industry Canada. The key priority ITC sub-sectors for Canada in the U.S. include digital media, wireless, and health IT.

Canada-U.S. Commercial Relations, 2005-2009

Text Alternative: Canada-U.S. Commercial Relations
Canada-U.S. Commercial Relations, 2005-2009
 Canadian Merchandise ExportsCanadian Merchandise ImportsCanadian Direct Investment Abroad (CDIA)Foreign Direct Investment in Canada (FDI)

Government Leadership and Support

Canada’s most important trade policy instrument with the U.S. is the NAFTA, which has revolutionized continental trade and investment and helped unlock our region’s economic potential. The Government of Canada is committed to leveraging the NAFTA to further strengthen our nation’s regional linkages, including addressing outstanding issues such as regulatory differences, border requirements and national procurement preferences (e.g. Buy American) in sectors that have a high degree of business integration and commonality of interests and where there is clear potential for improvement. Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service—which was expanded in 2003 and now comprises 22 Consulates General, Consulates and Trade Offices located in major commercial centres across the country—will continue to provide Canadian businesses with the information, advice and support they need to advance their U.S. commercial interests, with increasing emphasis on cultivating foreign investment and technology commercialisation partnership opportunities for Canadian firms to integrate into U.S.-led and other global value chains.

Market Access

Canada has a number of bilateral trade and investment policy instruments in place that are helping to facilitate and support Canadian commercial engagement in the country:


  • Canada-U.S. Convention with respect to Taxes on Income & Capital (updated in 2008)


  • Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement


  • North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)


  • Canada-U.S. Air Transport Agreement


  • Canada-U.S. Government Procurement

Unless otherwise stated, all data is for 2009 and expressed in Canadian dollars. All data based on latest available national statistics drawn from a variety of sources, including Statistics Canada, Export Development Canada, Bank of Canada, IMF WEO and UNCTAD.

For further information, visit the Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada website or contact the Trade Commissioner Service at 1-888-306-9991.


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Fast Facts

  • Capital: Washington, D.C.
  • Total Area: 9,629,091 km²
  • Population: 307 million
  • Language(s): English, Spanish
  • Type of Government: Constitution-based federal republic
  • GDP: $16.1 trillion
  • GDP per capita: $52,519
  • Share of Global Economy: 24.4%
  • Total Trade/GDP: 21.0%
  • Main Export Destinations: Canada, Mexico, China, Japan and the United Kingdom
  • Main Import Sources: China, Canada, Mexico, Japan and Germany
  • Main Exports: Machinery, Electrical and electronic equipment, Aerospace products, Motor vehicles, Scientific and precision instruments
  • Main Imports: Mineral fuels and oils, Electrical and electronic equipment, Machinery, Motor vehicles, Pharmaceutical products
  • Main Canadian Exports (billions): Mineral oil, fuel ($75.3), Motor vehicles ($36.4), Machinery ($20.2), Electrical and electronic equipment ($11.5), Paper and paperboard ($9.1)
  • Main Canadian Imports (billions): Motor vehicles ($32.4), Machinery ($28.5), Electrical and electronic equipment ($13.2), Mineral fuels and oils ($10.7), Plastic ($9.3)
  • Currency: C$1=0.88 American dollars (US)

The Canada Trade Commissioner Service

U.S. Midwest

U.S. Northeast

U.S. Northwest

U.S. South Central

U.S. Southeast

U.S. Southwest