Trade by importer characteristics

Released: 2018-05-25

In 2017, 154,225 enterprises in Canada imported goods from abroad, up 5,339 from 2016. The growth was widespread among every sector of the economy.

Small and medium importing enterprises (SMEs) accounted for 98.6% of all importers in the country in 2017. These firms were responsible for 47.3% of total Canadian imports by value. From 2010 to 2017, imports by SMEs grew by 43.6% compared with 34.1% for large enterprises.

Canadian enterprises diversified their markets for imports from 2010 to 2017, with 59.4% of all Canadian importers purchasing goods from both US and other foreign countries in 2017, up from 56.6% in 2010.

Geographical diversification of imports also differs depending on the size of the importing enterprise. In 2017, 89.9% of all large enterprises imported goods from both US and non-US markets, compared with 58.9% of all SMEs.

More enterprises import from Asia and Europe and fewer from North America
More Canadian firms were drawing their imports from Asian and European markets in 2017 than they did in 2010. On a country basis, specifically the last country from which the good is exported before entering the Canadian economy (referred to as the country of export basis), there were 10,402 more enterprises importing from Asia in 2017 than in 2010, and 5,472 more enterprises importing from Europe. Meanwhile, the number of enterprises importing from North America was down by 9,646 in 2017 compared with 2010.

Despite the changes, North America remained the most important market for Canadian importers in 2017, accounting for 67.4% of all imports in terms of value. This share was up from 65.0% in 2010, reflecting the higher-value products imported from this region, such as vehicles, parts and petroleum products.

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