Business opportunities in Canada for Italian companies

May 02 2023 Stefano Rossi
Canada is a high-income country, rich in raw materials, with an advanced agricultural sector and an important industrial base.

The stability of the political and economic system, the presence of certain rules and the rule of law, labor market conditions, the cost of production factors and access to credit, combined with the appreciation of Italian products and the policy of openness to international trade traditionally followed by the country, make Canada an extremely attractive market for Italian companies interested in increasing their exports or internationalizing their production.

Since September 21, 2017, the CETA "Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement" between the European Union and Canada has been applied. The Agreement, in addition to the almost total liberalization of tariff lines, provides for measures such as the opening of Canadian public procurement to European companies, the protection of a series of geographical indications, the facilitation of the movement of workers and privileged treatment in the field of investments.

Canada has also been part of a free trade agreement with the USA and Mexico (NAFTA) since 1994, which has recently been renegotiated between the Parties. The new version of the Agreement, called USMCA (CUSMA in the Canadian wording), was signed on November 30, 2018, and came into force on July 1, 2020. A further important step in the field of openness to international trade was taken by Canada in 2018, with the entry into force, from December 30, of the CPTPP "Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership", concluded between 11 countries in the Pacific area.

As for bilateral trade, data from the Canadian National Statistics Agency, Statistics Canada, show that in 2020 Italy, despite the crisis, confirmed itself as the seventh-largest supplier overall, the second-largest European supplier, after Germany.

In 2020, imports of Italian goods to Canada amounted to 9 billion CAD, a decrease of 5.0% compared to the previous year, against approximately 3.7 billion CAD of Canadian exports to Italy (source Statistics Canada). The trade balance is therefore favorable to Italy with a very significant positive balance, in the order of 5.3 billion CAD. After closing 2019 with a growth of 5%, 2020 also started positively for our country, and the increase in Italian exports to Canada in the first two months of 2020 compared to the same period of the previous year was 8.6%.

In 2021, imports of Italian goods to Canada amounted to 4,8 mld EUR (+13,2%; source Sace S.p.A.) and 2022 forecasts are also positive with a +12% compared to 2021, for a total of exports of around 5,4 mld EUR (source Sace S.p.A.).

Due to the pandemic, there has been a slowdown in trade, however, the Italian decline was the most moderate among all major Canadian trading partners, after China and South Korea.

Among the main sectors of our exports are machinery, motor vehicles and means of transport, beverages and alcoholic beverages (wine in particular) and food products. In the latter sector, Italy is the leading European supplier to Canada (fourth worldwide). Imports from Canada to Italy mainly concern mineral products, chemical products, and machinery.

Not only exports, Canada is also a place to be considered for foreign direct investments. Thanks to the above-mentioned stability of the political and economic system, the presence of certain rules and the rule of law, abundant natural resources, modern infrastructures and the easy access to the US market, Canada is an ideal location to invest for new commercial or industrial projects. The country offers a very favorable business environment with also competitive tax system and efficient regulation. 

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