Benefits for Canadians

Canada’s prosperity is linked to economic opportunities beyond our borders. In fact, trade accounts for more than 60 percent of Canada’s annual income (GDP), and one in five Canadian jobs is linked to exports.

In 2011 Canada's total trade with the world reached $1.1 trillion—that's about $32,000 for every Canadian. Exports amounted to $539 billion while imports totalled $561 billion, offering all Canadians the opportunity to enjoy goods and services from around the world.

Trade encourages Canadian companies and workers to specialize in what they do best, fostering innovation, competitiveness and success. Trade offers consumers a greater choice of lower-priced goods and services. Furthermore, trade enables higher wages for workers. Canadians working for firms that export goods and services enjoy wages that are 14 percent higher than those working for non-exporting firms. In short, trade increases Canadian prosperity and boosts our standard of living. It is good for every Canadian in every corner of the country.

Opening Markets for Canadian Goods and Services

The Government of Canada is working hard to open new markets to increase exports of Canadian goods and services to the world. It is committed to providing Canadian businesspeople and investors like you with the tools, access and support you need to succeed in global markets.

Trade Agreements and Negotiations

Foreign trade barriers are often identified as hurdles for businesses that want to export. Free trade agreements (FTAs) and foreign investment promotion and protection agreements (FIPAs) address these hurdles and facilitate trade by:

  • reducing or removing tariffs
  • reducing or removing non-tariff barriers
  • improving market access
  • making it easier to pass through customs
  • providing protection for intellectual property
  • providing more efficient and transparent regulatory processes
  • creating dispute-resolution mechanisms

Find out more about our initiatives.

Market Access for Agricultural Products

Between April 2011 and June 2012, the Government of Canada succeeded in reopening, maintaining and expanding market access for a broad range of plant, animal and food products. Key accomplishments included:

  • restoring access for Canadian beef aged less than 30 months to South Korea—this access could generate $30 million in sales annually by 2015 according to industry estimates
  • maintaining access for Canadian canola-based products to China, a market worth $1.6 billion in 2011
  • achieving a World Trade Organization ruling against the U.S. country-of-origin labelling requirement that is resulting in losses of hundreds of millions of dollars for Canadian cattle and hog producers.

To find out more, consult the 2011-2012 Agriculture and Agri-Food Market Access Report.


Since 2009, the Government of Canada has eliminated more than 1,800 tariff items and provided more than $435 million in annual tariff relief to Canadian businesses.

Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative

The Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative is the Government of Canada’s strategy for improving Canada’s transportation system in a way that supports Canada’s international trade objectives with Asia. The completed system will offer access to world-class logistics and distribution facilities and will secure efficient and reliable routes for the import and export of goods.

The Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative is positioning Canada as the gateway of choice between Asia and North America: compared with other major North American sea ports, those on Canada’s west coast are more than two days closer to Asian markets.

To find out more about the initiative, please visit Asia-Pacific Gateway and Corridor Initiative.

Trade Commissioner Service

The Canadian Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) helps companies navigate the complexities of international markets and make better business decisions. The TCS is on the ground in more than 150 cities worldwide, gaining market intelligence, uncovering opportunities for Canadian companies and helping reduce business costs and risks.

To find out more about international markets, contact a trade commissioner.