Canada’s largest exports to Russia? Aircraft and farm machinery

(Kara Oosterhuis/RealAgriculture)

Based on historical trade data, Canada’s agricultural manufacturers could be among the businesses most affected by the federal government’s decision to cancel permits for exports to Russia as part of its package of sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine.

On Thursday, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly indicated the cancellation of export permits would affect approximately C$700 million in Canadian exports. Further details on whether the move applies to all export permits, or whether certain categories, such as agriculture machinery, could be exempt, is not yet clear.

RealAgriculture is seeking comment from several agricultural manufacturers and industry organizations, but in the meantime, here’s a look at Canada’s recent trade with Russia:

Exports to Russia

The International Trade Centre’s Trade Map shows Canada’s exports to Russia totalled $617 million in 2020 and $666 million in 2019 (all numbers in Canadian dollars).

Looking at harmonized product codes used to classify exports and imports, the code for “agricultural/horticultural/forestry machinery for soil preparation or cultivation,” which includes seeding and tillage equipment, was the second highest value sub-category of Canadian exports to Russia in 2020, with exports valued at $48.6 million.

The only product code with higher value exports in 2020 was for “powered aircraft,” at $50.3 million.

Another $15.4 million in exports in 2020 fell under a separate product code for harvesting machinery, which would include combines and balers.

Exports to Russia reported in the less specific “machines and mechanical appliances having individual functions” sub-category totalled another $28.4 million in 2020.

In terms of dollar value, other significant exports to Russia include pet food products, aircraft parts, and batteries.

Imports from Russia

On the import side of the trade balance, Canada’s imports from Russia in 2020 totalled $1.19 billion, down from $1.92 billion in 2019.

Most of Canada’s purchases in 2020 were related to Russia’s energy industry, with oil and coal imports exceeding $200 million combined.

Fertilizer imports from Russia, primarily nitrogen fertilizers, were worth $196.4 million in 2020.

Other significant imports from Russia include rare metals, such as platinum, and tires — Canada imported $104 million worth of pneumatic tires from Russia in 2020.

Small in overall context

Taken into context, the value of Canada’s exports to Russia is relatively small in the big picture — approximately 0.12 per cent of total Canadian exports worth $522.4 billion. The $1.19 billion in imports in 2020 also represents a very small fraction of Canada’s total imports, valued at $541.7 billion.

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