Have you ever wondered where some of your favorite indulgences come from? If you enjoy fine wine, fancy cheeses, or high fashion, chances are some of your go-to brands are from France. Surprised to know some of these items are not made in Canada? Well, as one of Canada’s biggest trade partners, France exports many popular products to stores across the country.
You’ve probably enjoyed French imports without even realizing it. Keep reading to discover some delicious and luxurious goods that find their way from France onto Canadian shelves and homes.
But first, let’s examine France’s international trade agreements.
Economic Ties and Trade Agreements
Canada’s international trade with France, a vital European Union member (EU) member, is bolstered by several economic ties and trade agreements. The most significant is the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Canada signed this agreement with the EU to enhance economic cooperation between Canada, France, and other countries in the EU.
CETA has paved the way for increased Canadian direct investment in France and French direct investment in Canada. The agreement also expanded trade in commercial services and government services. Hence, it facilitated greater cooperation and exchanges between Canadian and French government agencies.
As part of NATO, Canada, and France collaborate on defense and security, further strengthening their relationship. Plus, Canada imports various goods from France, including dairy products. However, there is a trade deficit, as Canada imports more from France than it exports.
Despite the trade deficit, the economic ties between Canada and France remain robust. Their solid bilateral relations, fostered by CETA and other international agreements like the co-production agreements, support a thriving trade relationship.
What Does Canada Import From France?
Now that we have explained the economic ties, it’s time to explore the French items within our borders.
French Wine and Spirits
Canada imports a variety of delicious French wines and spirits. After all, the French are world-renowned for their winemaking prowess.
One of the most popular imports is Bordeaux wine. These full-bodied red wines are made in the Bordeaux region of France. The blend comprises Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec grapes. You’ve probably heard of famous Bordeaux like Château Margaux or Château Lafite Rothschild.
Another prized import is Champagne, the sparkling wine made only in the Champagne region of France. Nothing says celebration like a glass of bubbly Champagne! Brands like Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, and Dom Pérignon are always a hit.
For a sweet treat, you can’t go wrong with a bottle of Crème de Cassis, a blackcurrant liqueur from Burgundy, France. Mix it with white wine to make a Kir Royal cocktail. Or try Cointreau, Grand Marnier, or Chambord, all popular French fruit liqueurs and cordials. The next time you’re looking for a special bottle, check out the French options at your local liquor store.
Luxury Goods- Fashion, Cosmetics, and Accessories
Canada imports many luxury goods from France, like high fashion, cosmetics, and accessories. France thrives in the clothing industry. That’s why you can always count on France for haute couture and ready-to-wear clothing from brands like Chanel, Louis Vuitton, and Yves Saint Laurent. In fact, many Canadians flock to Paris for bi-annual fashion shows to get a glimpse of the latest styles and shop for designer brands.
France is also home to many world-renowned cosmetic and perfume houses, like Lancôme, L’Oréal, and Sephora. All these brands have a strong presence in Canada. Fragrances from Christian Dior, Thierry Mugler, and Jean Paul Gaultier are trendy.
Another area of import is premium leather goods and accessories. Brands like Longchamp, Givenchy, and Celine are coveted for chic handbags, wallets, belts, and small leather accessories.
Canada imported over $1.3 billion in cosmetics, perfumes, clothing, textiles, footwear, and luxury accessories from France in 2020. While the pandemic caused a decline in 2020, the demand for high-quality, stylish goods from France continues to grow.
If you want to indulge in some of the world’s finest fashion and cosmetics, you don’t need to travel to Paris. Many of these luxurious French brands have boutiques in cities across Canada. You can get your fix of Parisian chic without leaving the country!
Cheese, Pastries, and Other Gourmet Foods
Yes, Canada also imports a variety of gourmet foods from France! Who would have thought those artisanal cheeses, pastries, and other delicacies were imported? Thankfully, some of these imported foods make France Festive foods even more appealing.
Well, if you have a taste for the finer things, these imports are sure to please your palate.
France is famous for some of the finest cheeses in the world. Luckily, many find their way into Canada. Soft cheeses like Brie, Camembert, and Roquefort are famous, as are hard cheeses like Comté and Beaufort. Similarly, the stinky yet delicious Époisses de Bourgogne is a personal favorite. These artisanal cheeses are available at gourmet grocery stores, cheese shops, and larger supermarkets.
What would French cuisine be without pastries? Delicate croissants, flaky pain au chocolat, and buttery palmiers are imported to satisfy Canadian sweet tooths.
Macarons – colorful cookies made of almond flour and filled with buttercream or ganache – have become popular recently. Chouquettes, beignets, and madeleines are other authentic French pastries you may spot in Canada.
Foie Gras & Truffles
Guess what? Foie gras and truffles are from France. Foie gras, or fatty duck or goose liver, is considered a true gourmet treat. Truffles, rare mushrooms that grow underground, are shaved over dishes to add an earthy, musky flavor.
Due to their high cost, people reserve them for special occasions. Other imports include Dijon mustard, olive oil from Provence, and flavored salts from the coast of Brittany.
Aircraft and Spacecraft
Furthermore, Canada imports various high-tech products from France, including aircraft and spacecraft. France is a leader in the aerospace industry. So, the country produces everything from commercial airliners to military fighter jets to satellites.
Canada’s major airlines, like Air Canada and WestJet, operate many Airbus aircraft, a European aerospace corporation headquartered in France. The Airbus A320 series, including the A319, A320, and A321, are popular narrow-body jets used for short and medium-haul flights within Canada and beyond.
The wide-body Airbus A330 is also commonly used for longer international routes from Canada to Europe, Asia, and South America. Relying on Airbus for a large portion of their fleet, Canada’s airlines provide passengers with high comfort, fuel efficiency, and performance.
The French aerospace industry also produces advanced military aircraft, like the Dassault Rafale multi-role fighter jet. Although Canada does not currently operate the Rafale, it does utilize other Dassault aircraft for training and surveillance. France is also a major supplier of missiles, radar, avionics, and other technology related to Canadian military equipment.
Canada works closely with the French space agency CNES on various space missions and research. This includes cooperation on telecommunications satellites and astronomical observatories like the James Webb Space Telescope. Also, there’s technology like Lidar for atmospheric monitoring.
While Canada has its space program and launch vehicles, collaborating with international partners like France allows for more ambitious space missions.
By importing aircraft, spacecraft, and related technology from France, Canada gains access to cutting-edge, world-class products and expertise. The two nations’ strong economic and political ties have fostered close cooperation in the aerospace sector for decades. France will likely remain an essential high-tech trade partner for Canada in the future.
What Does Canada Export to France in Return?
Canada and France have a long-standing trade relationship, with various goods and services exchanged between the two countries. While Canada imports many products from France, like wine, cheese, and luxury goods, Canada also exports various commodities to France in return.
One of Canada’s biggest exports to France is canola seed, used to produce canola oil. France imports over $200 million worth of canola seed from Canada each year to meet its growing demand for vegetable oil and biodiesel fuel. Canada is the world’s largest producer and exporter of canola, so it’s no surprise we supply much of France’s needs.
Canada also exports large amounts of wood products to France, including softwood lumber, pulp, and paper. These products amount to over $150 million in exports annually. France lacks sufficient forests to meet all its wood product needs, so Canada helps fill the gap. The wood exported from Canada serves France’s construction and paper manufacturing industries.
In addition, Canada exports various minerals and metals to France, like aluminum, iron, nickel, and copper. These raw materials are crucial for France’s aerospace, automotive, and electronics manufacturing sectors. Overall, mineral and metal exports to France exceed $200 million annually.
While the products may differ, the strong trade relationship between Canada and France has spanned decades. Both economies benefit by exchanging each country’s abundant goods for those it lacks. The partnership is a model of mutually beneficial free trade on the global stage.
On a Final Note
Canada and France have a strong trading relationship spanning many industries, from wines and spirits to aircraft and pharmaceuticals.
The next time you enjoy a glass of Bordeaux, fly on an Airbus jet or take an antibiotic, you may be experiencing a little slice of French culture, economy, and innovation. So, you may as well take a French class!