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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.


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London, United Kingdom

Europe is a vast and diverse economic region that offers a myriad of commercial opportunities for globally engaged companies. With a population of nearly 594 million people spanning over 35 nationsFootnote 1, Europe accounted for about a third of the world output and about 39 percent of world merchandise trade in 2009 and nearly half of the global stocks in 2009 (46.1 percent)Footnote 2. As well, gross domestic expenditure on R&D in the EU‑27 was equivalent to nearly 30 percent of all OECD’s.Footnote 3 The Global financial crisis has had a negative impact on the European economy and the Euro zone has been over the past months facing a major crisis. Economic forecasts for the EU‑27 indicate a gradual recovery in 2010 as the EU GDP growth rate is expected to reach 1.8%. European Union (EU) regulatory standards are setting the bar globally, as European manufacturers seek to become leaders in their respective areas. Some 178 of the Fortune Global 500Footnote 4 firms have chosen to locate their global headquarters in Europe. As such, Europe is a key player in global value chains, offering various points of entry into these networks, as well as being an important supplier of investment capital for Canadian firms. Europe’s influence also extends beyond its economic position. Four of the eight G8 members and two of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council are European Union countries. There is growing consensus in Europe on foreign policy issues such as global security, terrorism and energy security—meaning that Europe will speak with an increasingly unified and prominent voice in the international sphere.

Commercial Relations, 2009

  • Canada’s merchandise exports to Europe declined by 19.1 percent, and imports by 17.7 percent, bringing two-way merchandise trade close to $87 billion in 2009.
  • Canada exported $12.6 billion in services to the EU in 2009. Services imports from the EU were valued at $15.7 billion.Footnote 5
  • Canada was the European Union’s tenth-largest merchandise export destination in 2009.
  • Europe is Canada’s second largest source and destination of investment. Known direct investment holdings in Canada from European countries reafched $184.5 billion representing a share of 33.6% of the FDI in Canada. Europe was the destination for $157.9 billion in Canadian direct investment abroad (known investment stock).
  • The EU is one of Canada’s most important sources of new technologies and a key partner in science and technology.

Market Opportunities

The Government of Canada has identified Europe as a Global Commerce Strategy 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 key sectors as offering clear opportunities well suited to Canadian capabilities and interests in the market:

  • Aerospace and Defence: Europe is the second largest customer for Canadian aerospace products and services, with $4.7 billion of sales in 2009, 26.8% of the overall Canadian industry annual revenue.Footnote 6 In 2008, the European aerospace and defence market boasted more than 2,000 companies, 80,000 suppliers, 676,000 workers and annual revenues of 137 billion euros. In 2008 about 125,000 people were employed outside Europe by European companies, delivering an estimated value of €30 billion.
  • Agriculture, Food and Beverages: The EU’s imports of agri-food and seafood products from non-EU countries totaled nearly $146 billion in 2009. Due to its population base, wealth and production capacity, it is a priority area for trade in Canadian agriculture, agri-food, fish and seafood.Canada was the EU’s 20th largest supplier of agriculture, agri-food and seafood products in 2009 with a 1.9% share of the EU market. Canadian food and seafood exports totaled $2.6 billion in 2009. Canadian exports included wheat, soy beans, linseed and pulses, as well as products such as shrimp and lobster. The EU is also Canada’s second largest market for maple products.
  • Life Sciences: The life sciences sector is one of Europe’s most dynamic industries. It features many leading pharmaceutical and medical device firms, innovative clusters and strong research funding open to international partnerships both academically and commercially (e.g. EU FP7 program). Many of the SME’s and MNE’s are investors in Canada and have a high degree of R&D in the country. Considering its excellent research base and strong distribution markets, Europe is an ideal market for Canadian life science firms seeking product distribution and research and development partnerships in the medical device, pharmaceutical and nutraceutical sub-sectors.
  • Information and Communication Technology (ICT): Information and Communications Technology (ICT) is among the leading sectors in Europe. For the EU as a whole, the ICT sector share represents 8.5% of total business value added (1) and employment constitutes 3% of total business sector employment. On the innovation front, ICT Research and Development (R&D) accounts for nearly a quarter of the EU's R&D.Footnote 7 For Canada, the EU remains an important market. Canada's exports of ICT goods to the EU was approximately $2.8 billion in 2008 and represented 12.6% of Canada's total exports of ICT goods.Footnote 8 Wireless, digital media and software are growing sub-sectors in Europe and present numerous opportunities for Canadian companies.
  • Environmental Industries: Environmental Industries: Adherence to environmental solutions is strong in most of the European countries and is accepted as a social requirement. As such this is a fundamental driver for solar, wind and other renewable energy development. In January 2007, Europe launched a strategic energy technology plan with ambitious targets for renewable energy that will provide Canadians with many opportunities to partner on new technology development, investment and trade across numerous sectors, including wind, biomass, small hydro, solar, hydrogen fuel cells and ocean technologies.Targets for the EU member countries as a whole are set to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% compared to 1990 levels. This involves increasing the share of renewable energy in the total EU energy mix to a 20% share by 2020. Within that goal, 10% of transport fuels must be sourced from renewables including biofuels. Futhermore by 2020, the EU targets to increase energy efficiency by 20%.

Canada-Europe Commercial Relations, 2005-2009

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

Government Leadership and Support

The Government of Canada is working with various partners across Europe to identify opportunities to remove the remaining barriers to the flow of goods, services and capital and to enhance bilateral cooperation in areas such as science and technology, energy and the environment. Canada and the EU announced the launch of negotiations towards a comprehensive economic and trade agreement at the Canada-EU Summit held May 6, 2009 in Prague. The ambitious agreement is expected to yield significant benefits for the economies of both Canada and the EU. When fully implemented, an agreement will bring an increase in two-way goods and services exports of more than 20 percent. Also at the 2009 Summit, Canada and the European Commission signed an air safety agreement which will stimulate aeronautical industrial activity, cut costs and alleviate the administrative burden in air transport. In December 2009, Canada and the European Commission signed a comprehensive Air Transport Agreement that replaces 19 existing bilateral agreements, as well as provide traffic rights for services between Canada and eight additional EU Member States. In April 2009, legislation to implement the free trade agreement (FTA) signed by Canada and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland received Royal Assent. The Agreement came into force on July 1, 2009. In July 2010, Canada signed Foreign Investment promotion and Protection Agreements (FIPAs) with Slovakia. Canada also signed renegotiated FIPAs with Latvia, the Czech Republic and Romania in May 2009 and existing FIPAs with Hungary and Poland are being renegotiated to bring them into alignment with EU law and provide better protection for Canadian investments. The Canada-EU Roadmap for Regulatory Cooperation continues to advance voluntary, regulatory cooperation in specific sectors (e.g. chemicals and food allergen labelling). Progress in this area could be further strengthened by including provisions for regulatory cooperation in a comprehensive economic and trade agreement with the EU, which would promote transparent, efficient and effective regulatory processes.

Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service continues to advance Canadian trade, investment and innovation interests across Europe. With offices in 32 cities, Canadian Trade Commissioners are actively reaching out to European business, government and trade associations to promote Canada as a “top of mind” supplier and partner for global business. To assure Canadian companies the best possible service and advice, Trade Commissioners across Europe work together across national borders.

Market Access

Canada and various European countries cooperate in many international fora, including the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Canada also has a number of bilateral trade and investment policy instruments in place that are helping to facilitate and support Canadian commercial engagement across Europe:

  • FIPAs with Czech Republic, Romania, Latvia, Croatia, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia
  • Trade and Economic Cooperation Arrangements (TECAs) with Switzerland, Norway, and Iceland
  • Free Trade agreement (FTA) signed by Canada and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland
  • Canada – EU Air Services Agreement
  • Canada – EU Air Safety Agreement

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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Footnote 1

For purposes of this GCS Priority Market Overview, Europe includes Albania, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lichtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and United Kingdom. Russia has been identified as a separate GCS Market Priority and has its own Market Overview. In Fast Facts: The GDP, population and GDP per capita exclude Lichtenstein and Montenegro.

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Footnote 2

United Nations Conference on Trade and Development.

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Footnote 3

OECD Main Science and Technology Indicators, 2010.

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Footnote 4

Fortune Magazine, July 2010.

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Footnote 5

EU only includes the countries within EU-27.

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Footnote 6

Aerospace Industries Association of Canada.

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Footnote 7

European Commission, Enterprise and Industry.

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Footnote 8

Industry Canada.

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Fast Facts

  • Population: About 598 million
  • GDP: $20.6 trillion
  • Per capita GDP: $34,464
  • Main Canadian Exports (billions): Precious Stones ($7.9), Machinery ($3.4), Aerospace products ($3.3). Mineral ores ($2.0), Mineral fuels & oils ($1.9)
  • Main Canadian Imports (billions): Pharmaceutical products ($8.4), Machinery ($8.3), Mineral fuels and oils ($8.0), Motor vehicles ($4.3), Electrical and electronic equipment ($3.0)
  • Currency: C$1=0.63 Euro

The Canada Trade Commissioner Service