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U.S.-Canada Trade Facts
U.S. goods and services trade with Canada totaled an estimated $714.1 billion in 2018. Exports were $360.5 billion; imports were $353.6 billion. The U.S. goods and services trade surplus with Canada was $7.0 billion in 2018.
However, the international shipment of non-U.S. goods through the United States can make standard measures of bilateral trade balances potentially misleading. For example, it is common for goods to be shipped through regional trade hubs without further processing before final shipment to their ultimate destination. This can be seen in data reported by the United States’ two largest trading partners, Canada and Mexico.
The U.S. data report a $19.8 billion goods deficit with Canada in 2018, and a $81.5 billion goods deficit with Mexico. Both countries, however, reported substantially larger U.S. goods surpluses in the same relationship. In 2018, Canada reported an estimated $103.2 billion surplus, and Mexico an estimated $128.5 billion surplus.
This reflects the large role of re-exported goods originating in other countries (or originating in one NAFTA partner, arriving in the United States, and then returned or re-exported to the other partner without substantial transformation). U.S. statistics count goods coming into the U.S. customs territory from third countries and being exported to our trading partners, without substantial transformation, as exports from the United States. Canada and Mexico, however, count these re-exported goods as imports from the actual country of origin. In the same way, Canadian and Mexican export data may include re-exported products originating in other countries as part of their exports to the United States, whereas U.S. data count these products as imports from the country of origin. These counting methods make each country’s bilateral balance data consistent with its overall balance, but yield large discrepancies in national measures of bilateral balance. It is likely that a measure of the U.S. trade deficit with Canada and Mexico excluding re-exports in all accounts would be somewhere in between the values calculated by the United States and by our country trading partners.
Canada is currently our 2nd largest goods trading partner with $617.2 billion in total (two way) goods trade during 2018. Goods exports totaled $298.7 billion; goods imports totaled $318.5 billion. The U.S. goods trade deficit with Canada was $19.8 billion in 2018.
Trade in services with Canada (exports and imports) totaled an estimated $96.9 billion in 2018. Services exports were $61.8 billion; services imports were $35.1 billion. The U.S. services trade surplus with Canada was $26.7 billion in 2018.
According to the Department of Commerce, U.S. exports of Goods and Services to Canada supported an estimated 1.6 million jobs in 2015 (latest data available) (1.2 million supported by goods exports and 360 thousand supported by services exports).
- Canada was the United States' largest goods export market in 2018.
- U.S. goods exports to Canada in 2018 were $298.7 billion, up 5.8% ($16.5 billion) from 2017 and up 14.4% from 2008. U.S. exports to Canada are up 197% from 1993 (pre-NAFTA). U.S. exports to Canada account for 18.0% of overall U.S. exports in 2018.
- The top export categories (2-digit HS) in 2018 were: vehicles ($52 billion), machinery ($45 billion), electrical machinery ($26 billion), mineral fuels ($26 billion), and plastics ($14 billion).
- U.S. total exports of agricultural products to Canada totaled $24 billion in 2018, our largest agricultural export market. Leading domestic export categories include: prepared food ($1.9 billion), fresh vegetables ($1.9 billion), fresh fruit ($1.5 billion), other snack foods ($1.4 billion), and non-alcoholic bev. (ex. juices) ($1.1 billion).
- U.S. exports of services to Canada were an estimated $61.8 billion in 2018, 5.8% ($3.4 billion) more than 2017, and 36.2% greater than 2008 levels. It was up roughly 263% from 1993 (pre-NAFTA). Leading services exports from the U.S. to Canada were in the travel, intellectual property (computer software, audio visual), and professional and management services sectors.
- Canada was the United States' 3rd largest supplier of goods imports in 2018.
- U.S. goods imports from Canada totaled $318.5 billion in 2018, up 6.4% ($19.2 billion) from 2017, but down 6.2% from 2008. U.S. imports from Canada are up 186% from 1993 (pre-NAFTA). U.S. imports from Canada account for 12.5% of overall U.S. imports in 2018.
- The top import categories (2-digit HS) in 2018 were: mineral fuels ($84 billion), vehicles ($53 billion), machinery ($23 billion), special other (returns) ($16 billion), and plastics ($12 billion).
- U.S. total imports of agricultural products from Canada totaled $23 billion in 2018, our 2nd largest supplier of agricultural imports. Leading categories include: snack foods ($4.5 billion), red meats, fr/ch/fr ($2.3 billion), other vegetable oils ($1.8 billion), processed fruit & vegetables ($1.6 billion), and fresh vegetables ($1.5 billion).
- U.S. imports of services from Canada were an estimated $35.1 billion in 2018, 6.3% ($2.1 billion) more than 2017, and 35.2% greater than 2008 levels. It was up roughly 285% from 1993 (pre-NAFTA). Leading services imports from Canada to the U.S. were in the travel, transport, and telecommunications, computer, and information services sectors.
- The U.S. goods trade deficit with Canada was $19.8 billion in 2018, a 15.9% increase ($2.7 billion) over 2017.
- The United States has a services trade surplus of an estimated $27 billion with Canada in 2018, up 5.1% from 2017.
- U.S. foreign direct investment (FDI) in Canada (stock) was $391.2 billion in 2017 (latest data available), a 7.1% increase from 2016. U.S. direct investment in Canada is led by manufacturing, nonbank holding companies, and finance and insurance.
- Canada's FDI in the United States (stock) was $453.1 billion in 2017 (latest data available), up 19.0% from 2016. Canada's direct investment in the U.S. is led by manufacturing, finance and insurance, and wholesale trade.
- Sales of services in Canada by majority U.S.-owned affiliates were $117.2 billion in 2016 (latest data available), while sales of services in the United States by majority Canada-owned firms were $108.5 billion.