The U.S. and Canada enjoy the world’s largest and most comprehensive trading relationship. The two countries trade more than $2 billion in goods and services daily. Canada is a highly receptive, open and transparent market for U.S. products and services, with Canadians spending more than 60 percent of their disposable income on U.S.-made goods and services. In 2016, Wisconsin exports to Canada surpassed total Wisconsin exports to Mexico, China, Japan and the UK combined.

Due to its geographic proximity and cultural similarity to the U.S., as well as the already high level of cross-border trade, Canada is a strong opportunity market for Wisconsin companies across all sectors. Canada is the largest export market for U.S.-produced goods ($320 billion in 2016) and for goods produced in Wisconsin ($6.6 billion in 2016).  With the renegotiation of The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in full swing, trade between the U.S. and Canada goes on. NAFTA along with similar business practices and a common language further ease trade between the U.S. and Canada.


In March 2018, the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) will be leading a global trade venture to Canada. Wisconsin companies, whether new to exporting or looking to expand their exports into Canada, are invited to participate in this program. The cities included in the program, Toronto and Winnipeg, were specifically chosen because their economic strengths align with Wisconsin’s own. Exporting is a key tactic for any company seeking to grow; Wisconsin companies across all sectors are encouraged to consider participating in this global trade venture.

In each city, participants will be scheduled for customized one-on-one meetings with prospective partners in the market. These partners are pre-qualified for each participating company based on specific qualifications and criteria that suit the company’s business needs and objectives. Each participant in the global trade venture will also receive market intelligence specific to his or her company, detailing considerations to keep in mind when introducing the company’s product or service into the Canadian market. WEDC has eyes and ears on the ground in Canada, in the form of an authorized trade representative based in Toronto—thus making it easier for Wisconsin companies to find local partners they can trust, and taking some of the guesswork out of launching in a new market. Traveling as part of a trade venture also provides the opportunity for peer-to-peer networking and sharing of experiences and business connections among participants.


The Canadian economy is a highly developed, mixed economy. Canada is one of the wealthiest nations in the world, with a high standard of living and excellent quality of life. Canada is the 10th largest global economy, and as of the second quarter of 2017, is the fastest-growing G7 economy, with an annualized growth rate of 4.5 percent—the fastest annual growth Canada has seen in roughly a decade.

As a large, advanced economy with well-developed infrastructure, Canada is an ideal first market for new-to-export companies as well as those seeking to further expand their business and distribution networks in country. Canada is a market that seeks innovative, advanced technology product and service solutions—so whether a company is a first-time or seasoned exporter, Canada should be a key component of its export growth strategy. In Canada, Wisconsin companies will find a friendly market with many potential buyers for their products and services, especially if they offer innovations that solve problems for companies in their respective sectors.

The greater Toronto area, which is a part of the highly integrated Great Lakes distribution and production network, is a rich and diversified economy. Ontario is the largest provincial economy in Canada (accounting for about 38 percent of total GDP), and its economy is still in the midst of a vigorous, broad-based economic expansion. Sectors of particular strength include aerospace (a $5.3 billion industry); automotive (Ontario is a leading jurisdiction for high-quality auto production); food and beverage manufacturing (Ontario has 52,000 farms producing more than 200 agricultural commodities); life sciences and medical technology (Toronto is Canada’s largest center of life science activity); and water technology (Ontario is a global leader of research and development).

Manitoba’s economy continues to be recognized as one of the most diversified in Canada.  Its provincial economy is forecast to grow 2.8 percent in 2018, which exceeds the overall growth forecast for the country as a whole. Manitoba is an often-overlooked region in central Canada that nonetheless provides a number of synergies with Wisconsin’s economic strengths.  Processed foods and beverages usually account for the largest value of all manufactured goods. Machinery making; metal fabricating; and the manufacturing of transportation equipment, electrical, chemical and printed products are also important. Mining production in Manitoba consists largely of metals and comes mainly from mines in the north. Manitoba is also known for its forest products industry, including furniture, doors, windows and cabinetry.