Sector-specific opportunities

Opportunities in Canada

There are numerous opportunities for UK businesses across virtually all sectors in Canada’s developed and sophisticated market.

Contact the Department for International Trade (DIT) trade specialists to find local representatives for your products via:

From its worldwide network, DIT can provide international export sales leads. Find export opportunities in Canada at:

For more information about opportunities and advice on doing business in Canada contact DIT at:

[Source – DIT Trade and Investment guide: Canada,]

Do not forget to check that your goods meet legal requirements for export, at the UK Export Control Joint Unit (ECJU) (formerly known as the Export Control Organisation) at:  


Government tenders

If you wish to bid for public contracts being procured by the Canadian Federal Government you will need to conform to Canadian Integrity Framework requirements:, and register as a supplier to obtain a Procurement Business Number (PBN), see: This will allow you to access federal government tender opportunities, accessible at:

There are additional tender opportunities available with Canada’s provincial, territorial and local governments too, which can be accessed via the Canadian Business Network at:

Partnering with a Canadian firm may improve your chance of success if applying for a government tender. Check with the DIT team in Toronto at: for assistance and information about third-party advisers if you decide to have your tender bids submitted by a domestic company or consultant.

[Source – FCO Overseas Business Risk, DIT Trade and Investment guide: Canada,]


Aerospace sector

Canada has a highly competitive aerospace production industry which is commercial and export orientated. In 2017, Canada ranked third globally in terms of civil aircraft, engines, and flight simulator production. The Canadian aerospace industry contributed almost $25 billion to GDP during 2017 and 190,000 jobs in the Canadian economy. There are 700 companies which comprise of aerospace manufacturing and maintenance, repair, and overhaul industries. The industry exports about 75% of its output to customers worldwide.

Investment in research and development (R&D) is nearly seven times as intensive as the manufacturing average, at almost $1.8 billion annually. This represents almost a quarter of total manufacturing R&D investments in Canada.

[Source –]

  • Canada’s aerospace products meet or exceed the highest standards in safety and reliability, thanks to Transport Canada’s world-recognised aviation system. 

  • The sector is highly integrated into the global value chain, and the industry generated direct annual revenues of almost $29 billion in 2017, representing a growth of 26% since 2012.

  • The Canadian aerospace sector is fully integrated with the United States, Europe, Asia and South America, and is among the most prolific in terms of export intensity and trade diversity. 

  • The sector is particularly well integrated into the US market, owing to its membership of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). It also benefits from one of the world’s best multi-modal transport systems.

  • Among the G7 countries, Canadian-based aircraft parts manufacturers have the advantage of the lowest cost structure.

[Source – Invest in Canada,]

Contact Invest in Canada (IIC) at: or the Department for International Trade (DIT) team in Toronto at: for further information about aerospace opportunities in Canada.

[Source – Invest in Canada, DIT]


Agri-food sector

The Canadian agri-food sector encompasses several industries including farming, service supply, food and beverage processing, food distribution, retail and wholesale. It employs 2.3 million people and accounts for about 8.5% of Canada’s GDP, generating over $110 billion annually. In 2017, total agri-food exports were $57.7 billion. Foreign investors can expect to join a well-established industry which has a global reputation for high quality products and innovation.

  • Canada is the fourth largest barley producer and second largest malt exporter in the world. $1 billion annually is directly generated from the export of feed barley and malt, and it is an integral part of the brewing and livestock industries. Presently, China has imported 60.6% of all Canada’s barley exports, with 31.2% being exported to the US.

  • The largest export market is the US, with exports to the US reaching $30 billion in 2017.

  • Canada is a world leader in the production and export of pulse crops, with 7.1 million tonnes being produced in 2017. Other significant agri-food farming sectors in Canada include beef, canola, pork, soybeans, grains, and sugar crops.

  • Labour costs at food processing facilities in Canada are 32.2% cheaper (including benefits) compared to US-based establishments, according to KPMG Alternatives 2016.

  • The diverse geography of the region makes it ideally suited to provide varied and plentiful raw materials. Manufacturers have consistent access to a range of natural resources to supply the production of first-class agri-food products.

  • Canada’s agri-food products conform to the highest international standards, thanks to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), which makes rigorous inspections of safety and quality at every stage of the food production process.

  • Canada benefits from 14 trade agreements which give investors from 51 countries privileged access to its markets. This ensures that 1.5 billion consumers with a combined GDP of US $49.3 trillion (more than half of global GDP) have preferential trading conditions with Canada.

 [Source – Invest in Canada,]

Contact Invest in Canada (IIC) at: or the Department for International Trade (DIT) team in Toronto at: for further information about agri-food opportunities in Canada.

[Source – Invest in Canada, DIT]


Automotive sector

Canada has a dynamic position at the hub of the largest and most profitable automotive markets in the world. The Great Lakes automotive supercluster is fully integrated into the market, with a large R&D base, making Canada an optimal location for automotive manufacturers. The sector has been established for over a century, and in 2016 consisted of 1,085 companies and generated $107.3 billion in factory revenues.  

  • According to the Canadian Vehicle Manufacturer Association, in 2016, vehicles were the top Canadian export valued at $63 billion. 97% of exports were to the US, helped by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), harmonisation of vehicle standards between the two countries and efficient border and customs procedures.

  • Free trade agreements also exist with the EU, such as the CETA, as well as with South Korea, which means that automotive investors in Canada have excellent export opportunities, with integrated global supply chains.

  • Canada is forging ahead with new automotive technology, attracting significant global investors such as GM and Ford, as well as tech giants Uber and Google. Expertise in areas such as neural networks, machine learning and AI (artificial intelligence) is driving industry growth.

  • The automotive supply sector is well connected to global markets, and offers opportunity for new investment. Canadian auto parts operations benefit from an average of 8.2% lower costs relative to US-based counterparts, and 4.5% lower costs relative to Japan, according to KPMG.

  • The Canadian automotive industry has particular expertise in light vehicles, commercial equipment and public transportation manufacturing. It manufactures vehicles for national rail networks, mining applications, and is one of the world’s top ten producers of light vehicles.

[Source –,]

Contact Invest in Canada (IIC) at: or the Department for International Trade (DIT) team in Toronto at: for further information about automotive opportunities in Canada.

[Source – Invest in Canada, DIT]


Biopharmaceuticals sector

Canada’s pharmaceutical industry is strong, and is set to grow from $22 billion in 2016 to about $25 billion by 2021. It is one of the leading locations for clinical trials, and several of the world’s major biotechnology companies, including Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Novartis, have established R&D and manufacturing bases. There is an innovative research network which collaborates with world-class academic institutions.    

  • In response to a rapidly changing global environment, the Canadian industry is shifting its business model towards externalised R&D via partnerships and collaborations. This is being supported by government programmes such as Business-Led Networks of Centres of Excellence (BL-NCEs), and Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research (CECR).

  • In Canada, all areas of the pharmaceutical and biotechnology sub-sectors are represented, and service different markets. These include both brand-name and generic firms, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), contract service providers, and innovation and product development.

  • Canada has the 10th largest world market, with total pharmaceutical sales doubling from 2001 to 2016, to $25.5 billion. This represents a 1.9% share of the global market, with annual growth remaining positive at 2.8%, since 2011.

  • Canada has the advantage of the sector’s lowest business costs among the G7 countries for the establishment and operation of manufacturing facilities for both medical devices and pharmaceuticals.

  • Canada offers the most competitive environment for R&D services for clinical trial administration and for biomedical research of all the G7 countries.

  • Canada’s pharmaceutical sector is expanding its reach in international markets. Between 2001 and 2017, pharmaceutical exports between Canada and the rest of the world increased by 44% and imports increased by 32%. Currently, over half of Canadian production is exported, mainly to the US, and 68% of the Canadian market is supplied by foreign imports.

[Source –,]

Contact Invest in Canada (IIC) at: or the Department for International Trade (DIT) team in Toronto at: for further information about biopharmaceuticals opportunities in Canada.

[Source – Invest in Canada, DIT]


Business services sector

Canada is at the forefront of a wide range of business-service verticals which make a significant contribution to the economy. New investors will be assisted by deep supply chains and supporting infrastructure. Established niches include legal and accounting services, engineering consulting, project management, data mining, knowledge-process outsourcing, business continuity, disaster-planning support, advertising, logistics and application development.

Canada ranks first among the G7 in terms of business costs for professional services, with an advantage of 27.6%. For corporate services the cost advantage is 26.1%, and for support services it is 24.9%, according to KPMG Competitive Alternatives 2016.

A particularly thriving sub-sector of business services is professional, scientific and technical services, which contributed $90.97 billion to Canada’s GDP and employed 862,558 Canadians in 2016. In the Atlantic region, employment growth averaged 3.2% per year, surpassing every other industry group in the region.

Canadian cities rank highly for quality of living, appearing regularly near the top of surveys such as the City Rankings list for North America. In Mercer’s annual Quality of Living Survey 2019, Vancouver was placed in 3rd position globally, with four other Canadian cities ranking in the top forty.  

[Source – Mercer]

Contact Invest in Canada (IIC) at: or the Department for International Trade (DIT) team in Toronto at: for further information about business services opportunities in Canada.

[Source – Invest in Canada, DIT]


Chemicals and plastics sector

Canada’s chemical and plastics sector is valued at more than $73 billion and continues to expand. Its growth has been helped by secure-access, low priced raw materials and infrastructure. With exports valued at almost $40 billion, Canada ranks among the world’s leaders for chemical and plastic production, and is set to grow by 27% in 2020.

  • Canada is the first choice for many global investors in chemical and plastics, owing to cheap and abundant supplies of feedstock and electricity, a skilled labour pool, world ranking research institutions, and ease of access to nearby markets.

  • Chemical and plastic producers not only benefit from a robustly growing domestic market, but are located within hours driving distance of 55% of the large North American market, some 190 million consumers. According to the Canada Plastics Industry Association, 93% of domestic exports go to the US, and so the sector relies heavily on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

  • A secure and reliable transport corridor for goods has been developed, with Canada’s border system and transportation infrastructure acknowledged to be among the world’s best. Border initiatives which are designed to cut out red tape and allow for the efficient movement of pre-approved eligible goods have resulted in an economy which is highly integrated with the US.

[Source –]

Contact Invest in Canada (IIC) at: or the Department for International Trade (DIT) team in Toronto at: for further information about chemicals and plastics opportunities in Canada.

[Source – Invest in Canada, DIT]


Data and communications sector

Canada has a strong market for data and communications verticals, which holds distinct advantages for new investors. These include competitive labour costs, a highly-skilled talent pool, and favourable tax rates and incentive programmes. Sub-sectors include Cloud computing and data centres, Internet of Things-enabled products, wearable tech, Big Data and Analytics, and telecommunications services and equipment.

  • The Canadian communications industry made a total of $67.6 billion in revenues during 2017, representing an overall growth of 1.5% since 2016.

  • Labour costs and tax rates compare favourably to other countries and the workforce is highly educated and experienced, and R&D is first class. Canada has established accelerator programmes that invest in world class innovation, which attracts global communications companies.

  • Canada leads the G7 with a 26% cost advantage for business environment in the digital services sector, and up to a 9.6% cost advantage for the telecommunications sector (according to KPMG Competitive Alternatives 2016).

  • Canada’s leading telecommunications companies include Rogers, BCE Inc., Telus Corporation and Shaw Communications. Global telecommunications and wireless companies who have established operations and R&D facilities in Canada include: ABB, Nokia, AT&T, Avaya Inc., BlinQ Networks Inc., Ciena Corporation, Cisco Systems, Ericsson, Google, Microsoft, and Samsung Electronics.

[Source –]

Contact Invest in Canada (IIC) at: or the Department for International Trade (DIT) team in Toronto at: for further information about data and communications opportunities in Canada.

[Source – Invest in Canada, DIT]


Digital media sector

Canada has a flourishing digital media industry, which according to the Canada Media Fund is worth $22 billion and supports 120,000 creative jobs. Video game development, animation and visual effects produced in Canada are globally admired for their technical and creative quality. The mobile gaming revenue in Canada is expected to grow from US $353 million in 2017 to US $480 million in 2023, according to

[Source –]

  • Canada has the most cost-competitive business and tax environment in the G7 for digital entertainment, according to KPMG’s Competitive Alternatives report (2016). This is partly owing to Canada’s provision of financial incentives to qualifying digital media firms, which makes the country a prime location for new investors.

  • Canada’s animation and digital games industry has a global reputation for innovation and creativity, and is the third largest in the world. The country boasts many world-renown animation schools which contribute to the growing knowledge pool, and it attracts international talent.

  • Canadian based companies have created animation and digital effects for many box office hits and award-nominated feature films. They have also been prolific in the production of popular television series such as Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead, as well as commercial advertising and animated children’s shows such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, among others.

  • Other areas of expertise include web design, advertising, education, social networking, and healthcare.

[Source –]

Contact Invest in Canada (IIC) at: or the Department for International Trade (DIT) team in Toronto at: for further information about digital media opportunities in Canada.

[Source – Invest in Canada, DIT]


Financial services sector

Canada’s financial services industry is highly regarded around the world. It encompasses banks, pension fund managers, credit unions, mutual-fund companies, insurance, asset management, securities and exchanges. The sector is subject to robust regulation, resulting in a stable and diversified base which is attractive to foreign investors. Toronto is the heart of Canada’s financial sector, and is amongst the world’s top ten global financial centres.

  • Canada’s financial industry is a cornerstone of the economy, growing steadily even through the severe recession of 2008-09. In 2017, the sector directly accounted for over 831,000 jobs and 7.1% of GDP in the country.

  • Financial services are Canada’s largest and fastest-growing services export, accounting for about half of outward foreign direct investment. In 2017 this totalled $537 billion, more than double the amount of 2007.  

  • With a cost competitiveness advantage over all the G7 countries of up to 27.6% for professional services, Canada enjoys an advantageous global position, according to KPMG Competitive Alternatives 2016.

  • In Canada, 140 hedge-fund management companies manage over $35 billion in assets (Alternative Investment Management Association); Canadians have invested over $1.4 trillion in mutual funds as of May 2017.

  • The Canadian FinTech industry has expanded rapidly in recent years and is expected to continue to grow. New regulations and leadership, along with collaborations between FinTechs and traditional financial institutions, are driving FinTech innovation in Canada, according to a new report by Global Risk Institute.

[Source –, The Conference Board of Canada]

Contact Invest in Canada (IIC) at: or the Department for International Trade (DIT) team in Toronto at: for further information about financial services opportunities in Canada.

[Source – Invest in Canada, DIT]


Machinery and equipment sector

Canada is among the world’s leading machinery-manufacturing countries. Diverse geography, rich in natural resources, means that there is a high demand for machinery and equipment within the Canadian economy. It recorded sales of $42.9 billion in 2015, with exports accounting for 79% of all sales. The industry has a workforce of 160,000, employed at over 10,000 establishments. It benefits from a deep value chain which supplies machinery for agriculture, construction, automotive, extraction, and aerospace metalworking.

  • Canada has the advantage of the lowest business costs of the developed world. Metal machining and precision component operations based in Canada have the lowest business costs of any country in the G7. Between 2003 and 2016, 177 foreign investors established operations in the industrial machinery, equipment and tools sector.

  • The industry thrives in Canada’s machinery intensive industries, such as agriculture, mining, oil and gas, utilities, construction, and manufacturing (AMUCM). These industries form 30% of Canada’s GDP and companies in these sectors spent over $31.4 billion in 2016 alone on machinery and equipment.

  • Canada’s agriculture industry is highly mechanised and capital-intensive, so agricultural machinery is in demand. The farm trends are towards the acquisition of more machinery and equipment, and farm sizes in Canada are generally large. There is a demand for larger, more efficient and powerful equipment.

  • Foreign investors in machinery manufacturing benefit from ease of access to the considerable US market, which is highly integrated into the Canadian economy thanks to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

[Source –]

Contact Invest in Canada (IIC) at: or the Department for International Trade (DIT) team in Toronto at: for further information about machinery and equipment opportunities in Canada.

[Source – Invest in Canada, DIT]


Medical device sector

Canada has the ninth largest medical devices industry in the world, which is currently valued at $6.8 billion and is predicted to grow steadily. The industry is modern, diverse, and sophisticated, with an R&D focus. The sector is export orientated, with the US being the primary market, due to geographic proximity and the similarity of safety and quality standards between the two countries.

  • The industry employs more than 35,000 Canadians across 1,500 sites, and large companies with over 100 employees represent 43% of the entire sector’s employment.

  • In 2017, the Canadian medical device market was valued at around US $4.7 billion. The sector is predicted to grow at a rate of 1.5% to 2% in line with demographic trends, developments in science and engineering, and changes in care delivery.  

  • Canada’s top five import categories from the US include orthopaedic, prosthetic, patient monitoring, diagnostic apparatus and dental equipment.

  • Hospitals account for approximately 18.2% of total export sales. Other major customers include dentists, eye care specialists, and nursing homes and care facilities.

  • Canada leads the G7 for cost-effectiveness of the establishment and operation of medical devices manufacturing facilities, and is prolific in the area of active clinical trials, ranking third in the world for medical devices.

  • Canada’s membership of NAFTA means that it benefits from duty-free access to Mexico and the US, which is the largest medical devices market in the world. Ease of trade is helped by Canada’s highly developed transportation infrastructure.

[Source –]

Contact Invest in Canada (IIC) at: or the Department for International Trade (DIT) team in Toronto at: for further information about medical devices opportunities in Canada.

[Source – Invest in Canada, DIT]


Mining sector

Canada has one of the world’s largest mining industries, which supplies approximately 60 metals and minerals to 100 different countries. It is globally competitive, attracting 13.5% of global exploration budgets in 2015. The industry directly employed 403,000 people and contributed $57.7 billion to GDP in 2016. The diversity of raw materials, together with a reliable supplies and service industry, make Canada a leading destination for international companies.

  • Canada is among the top five worldwide producers for 14 different commodity metals and minerals. The largest potash producing company in the world, Nutrien, is based in Saskatchewan. Other valuable mineral products are gold, copper, iron ore and coal. They account for almost 60% of the total value of domestic mineral production.

  • There are more than 3,700 companies that supply mining related support activities, such as financial, environmental, engineering, and geotechnical services. Further related services include logistical support, legal services, and environmental management.

  • 50% of the world’s public mining companies are listed on the TSX (Toronto Stock Exchange) and TSX-Venture Exchanges. In total, 38% of the equity capital raised globally was accountable to the two exchanges in 2017.

  • Canada is a world leader in safety and sustainability in the mining industry. Canadian companies were the first in the world to develop an externally-verified performance system for sustainable mining practices with the creation of MAC’s Towards Sustainable Mining initiative in 2004.

  • In 2015, mining, mineral-related support activities and mineral processing industries accounted for 3.3% of Canada’s GDP. $10.4 billion of stock resulted from foreign direct investment in Canada’s mining industry in 2015.

[Source –]

Contact Invest in Canada (IIC) at: or the Department for International Trade (DIT) team in Toronto at: for further information about mining opportunities in Canada.

[Source – Invest in Canada, DIT]


Oil and gas sector

Canada has the world’s third largest oil reserves, with about 165 billion barrels that are recoverable from its oil sands, and are fully open to private investment. It also has an estimated 1,225 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and is the fifth largest producer of natural gas in the world. Canada’s oil and gas industry is worth $101 billion a year, and provides a competitive business environment that attracts foreign investors.

  • Oil and gas are well established industries in Canada, with 19 refineries and an 825,000 km oil pipeline system. It has good access to both the North American and Asian markets. Product is transported three ways, via marine transport, pipeline and rail.

  • Asia’s fast-growing economies are demanding ever more energy, and several new natural gas terminals have been proposed for Canada’s West Coast. East Asian markets are an eight to eleven day sail from Canada’s West Coast, which is a faster journey than most other North American locations, providing a competitive advantage.

  • Canada offers attractive economics for new investors, with full-cycle supply costs for oil and gas investment opportunities competitive with global counterparts, such as US tight oil, offshore oil and global shale gas.

  • Flow-Through Shares (FTS) are financial incentives which are designed to help companies involved in exploration, drilling, production, refining or pipeline operation to fund their activities more easily. This works by transferring eligible exploration and development expenses to investors, who can then apply for tax credits for these expenditures.

  • The Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) ranks first among all exchanges globally for oil and gas listings, with 35% of the world’s oil and gas companies listed in Canada, and 21% of all oil and gas service companies.

[Source –]

Contact Invest in Canada (IIC) at: or the Department for International Trade (DIT) team in Toronto at: for further information about oil and gas opportunities in Canada.

[Source – Invest in Canada, DIT]


Renewable energy sector

Canada is a world leader in the production of energy from renewable resources. It has many natural advantages, such as a large landmass and diverse geography, which can be used to produce energy. Renewable energy sources currently provide about 18.9% of Canada’s total primary energy supply. The main renewable energy resources are moving water, wind, biomass, solar, geothermal, and ocean energy.

  • Moving water is the most important renewable energy source in Canada, providing 59.3% of Canada’s electricity generation, making Canada the second largest producer of hydro-electricity in the world.

  • Wind is the second most renewable energy source in Canada, accounting for 3.5% of electricity generation in Canada. Biomass is the third largest renewable source of Canada’s electricity generation. There are therefore a number of opportunities for investors across the sector. These include technology development and fuel supply to generation, storage and distribution. 

  • Wind energy offers particular scope for foreign investors, with some of the world’s largest companies based in Canada. There are also openings in engineering, operation and maintenance, construction, component manufacturing and transportation.

  • Photovoltaic energy is one of the fastest growing sources of electricity in Canada; the country has the resources and insolation necessary to build and successfully operate globally competitive solar farms.

  • Canada is the sixth largest consumer of electricity in the world, so there is a sizable domestic market for investors. There are also considerable export opportunities, as the US is the largest global electricity consumer and Canada’s energy markets are highly integrated with the US.

[Source –]

Contact Invest in Canada (IIC) at: or the Department for International Trade (DIT) team in Toronto at: for further information about renewable energy opportunities in Canada.

[Source – Invest in Canada, DIT]


Software sector

Canada has a large talent pool of highly skilled software development professionals from both home and abroad. New investors take advantage of low operations and R&D costs, and ease of access to the US market. From new start-up workers to students and scientists, Canada has a thriving tech community, with 55% of the workforce having graduated from post-secondary programmes.

  • Canada has a reputation for progress and innovation in software development. It is fast becoming a destination for commercial investment and competes on the world stage.

  • Compared to other G7 countries, operating costs are low, as are R&D costs. Canada has full and free access to the lucrative US market. Many of the world’s leading global companies such as Google, Adobe, Amazon, Microsoft, Oracle, Samsung, IBM and many others have established operations and R&D facilities in Canada.

  • The Canadian software development sub-sector has the lowest overall business costs in the G7 countries, according to a 2016 study of the Digital Services industry in Canada by KPMG. The labour costs for high value-added activities in Canada are also very competitive.

Contact Invest in Canada (IIC) at: or the Department for International Trade (DIT) team in Toronto at: for further information about software opportunities in Canada.

[Source – Invest in Canada, DIT]


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