US President Barack Obama and Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talk trade relations on Thursday. Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images
By The Numbers

Canada: Our biggest trade partner, by the numbers

Donna Tam Mar 10, 2016
US President Barack Obama and Canada Prime Minister Justin Trudeau talk trade relations on Thursday. Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images

The Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is causing quite a stir with his visit to the U.S. this week. With his “dreamy” looks and liberal politics, he’s joined the ranks of other Canadian imports so many Americans love (i.e., Justin Bieber, Drake, “Orphan Black”). But what else should we thank our northern neighbor for?

A lot, actually. Canada is currently our top trading partner, ahead of China and Mexico. President Barack Obama said Thursday that the U.S. and Canada have the largest economic relationship in the world. We’re talking $2 billion every day in trade and investment that supports about 1.7 million American jobs. The two leaders have agreed to make it even easier for Canadians and Americans to do business across the border by streamlining regulations and making it easier to get through immigration and customs on both sides.

“We’re woven together so deeply — as societies, as economies — that it’s sometimes easy to forget how truly remarkable our relationship is,” Obama said.

That relationship is responsible for lots of different goods, including food, raw materials and, electronics. Let’s take a look at some of the major things we import from Canada:

Fossil fuels

The U.S. imports nearly $47 billion in crude oil from Canada, making oil the top import from The Great White North. This is the stuff we use to make things like gasoline, diesel and jet fuel. We also import nearly $7 billion worth of petroleum products and $7.3 billion in natural gas.


You can’t get more Americana than cars, but Americans actually get billions of dollars worth of car-related items from Canada, including $42.2 billion in new and used cars, $2.6 billion in trucks and buses, $3.7 billion in engines and engine parts, and $1.6 billion in tires.


Among the food we import from Canada, meat products are the most in demand. We import $4.4 billion in meat products. Couple that with $2.3 billion in vegetables and $4.4 billion in baked goods, and you’ve got yourself dinner.

Building materials

If you’re building a tiny house, as one does these days, you may end up using materials that are actually from up north. The U.S. imports $4.7 billion in lumber from Canada, as well as $3.6 billion in shingles and wallboard.


The U.S. imports $5.3 billion in pharmaceutical preparations, which is a way to describe any pharmaceuticals that are ready to use, including cough and cold medicine, lip balm, or antacids.

There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.