Canadian Manufacturing

Conference Board report reveals Canada’s top prospects for trade with China

by Canadian Staff   

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Minerals, agricultural, services, and food manufacturing present best opportunities for Canadian exporters in China, says Conference Board of Canada

OTTAWA—Canada’s best prospects for trade with China include mineral and agricultural products; services in the technical, financial, recreational, and entertainment industries; and food manufacturing; according to research from the Conference Board of Canada’s Global Commerce Center, a economic institution that provides evidence-based tools to help companies and governments respond to global business trends.

“Chinese demand is projected to rise for many of the goods and services in which Canada holds a global comparative advantage. Natural resources, some services industries, and food manufacturing are best prepared to increase production to meet rising Chinese demand. And with the possibility of future trade strife between the U.S. and China, this could create an even greater opportunity for Canada,” said Julie Ades, senior economist, Global Commerce Centre.

Report Highlights:

  • China’s growth is now easing from the average annual pace recorded from 1991 to 2011, but it continues to be one of the fastest-growing economies in the world
  • Oversupplies of housing and excess capacity in some sectors are weighing on growth in the Chinese imports of some commodities. This trend will likely persist as economic growth continues to moderate
  • Services opportunities are currently small, but are growing in a number of sectors, which could translate into more opportunities for Canadian firms

The value of Canadian exports to China has grown at a double-digit pace from 2006 to 2015, making China our second-largest export market.


Natural resources account for close to 50 per cent of all Canadian merchandise exports to China.

In-Demand Canadian Goods:

  • non-agricultural commodities—such as mineral fuels and oils, precious stones, and precious metals
  • agricultural products—such as cereals, oil seeds, seafood, and vegetables
  • processed food products—such as meat and cereal products

Demand for some advanced manufacturing products, such as vehicles and aircrafts, will continue to increase as the Chinese middle class expands. However, the Canadian vehicles and parts industries have been struggling to remain competitive in the face of growing competition and will need to find the right product mix to secure a market niche in China.

Wood product manufacturing and the aerospace industries will need to expand their capacity in order to benefit from rising demand from China.

Opportunities to sell services to China are currently small, but they are growing in a number of sectors. This could translate into more opportunities for Canadian firms if China opens its services sectors to foreign direct investment.

Canada has global commercial strengths in a number of services for which Chinese demand is expected to rise.

Promising Canadian Sectors:

  • personal, cultural, and recreational services
  • scientific research, architectural, engineering, and other technical services
  • financial services
  • computer and information services

This research is presented in two publications, Chinese Demand: What’s Growing and Open to Canadian Companies, and Responding to Chinese Demand: Canadian Industries’ Competitiveness and Capacity.


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