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For additional information relating to this article, please contact:

Thomas StorringDirector – Economics and Statistics
Tel: 902-424-2410Email:

November 26, 2018



The trade data in the economic accounts represent provincial total and net expenditures in interprovincial (intP) and international (intN) markets. As there are important differences in the characteristics of intN and intP markets, it is useful to provide a separate analysis. In this note, the focus is on international (intN) trade.

Several components of intN trade are considered separately and in combination. These include exports, imports, goods, services, total and net trade. Net trade is particularly important as it represents deferred expenditures, either in the form of domestic savings (surplus) or domestic borrowing (deficit).

Total international trade is the sum of intN imports and exports, goods and services. It is the measure of total intN trade activity external to the provincial domestic market and interprovincial markets.

Total intN trade is comprised of four components.

In 2017, in order by value, they are:

  • intN goods-imports ($11.4 billion);
  • intN goods-exports ($5.5 billion);
  • intN services-exports ($1.9 billion); and
  • intN services-imports ($1.7 billion); 
  • Summed, they total $20.4 billion.

By commodity category:

  • intN total goods valued at $16.9 billion (82.6% share) dominate
  • intlN total services valued at $3.5 billion (17.4% share).

By market category:

  • intN total imports valued at $13.1 billion (64.1% share) dominate
  • intN total exports valued at $7.3 billion (35.9% share).

The result is, Nova Scotia’s intN net trade is a $5.7 billion DEFICIT.




In Nova Scotia 2017 over 2016, International Trade and nominal GDP ranked by year-over-year growth:

  • intN Services Exports increased 4.8% to $1.9 billion. 
  • intN Goods Imports increased 4.1% to $11.4 billion. 
  • nominal GDP increased 2.9% to $42.7 billion.
  • intN Goods Exports increased 1.5% to $5.5 billion. 
  • intN Services Imports increased 1.0% to $1.7 billion.

In the period 2009 to 2017, Nova Scotia international trade and nominal GDP ranked by growth rates:

  • ntN Services Exports increased 45.8%  (CAGR=4.8%)
  • intN Services Imports increased 43.3% (CAGR=4.6%)
  • nominal GDP increased 22.3%  (CAGR=2.5%)
  • intN Goods Imports increased 19.3% (CAGR=2.2%)
  • intN Goods Exports increased 7.2% (CAGR=0.9%)



The trade openness index is a measure of the relative increase in trade growth to GDP growth. The total international trade openness index provides evidence to the expansion or contraction of the various international trade sectors. 

In the illustration, one can see that leading the way was intN Exports of Services increasing 2.1 points over 2016 to 119.1 and increasing 19.1 points over 2009. Followed by:

  • intN Imports of Services decreased 2.2 points over 2016 to 117.2 and increasing 17.2 points over 2009;
  • intN Imports of Goods increasing 1.1 points over 2016 to 97.5 and decreased 2.5 points over 2009; and
  • intN Exports of Goods decreased 1.3 points over 2016 to 87.6 and decreased 12.4 points over 2009.




The international trade overview presented above provides insight Nova Scotia trade performance since the recession of 2009. The following overview provides a longer-range view to highlight trade over the last 35 years. This period (1992-2017) saw rapid global trade expansion, as China entered the international market, Nova Scotia exported a new, major commodity (natural gas). There was a global financial crisis, an economic recession and economic recovery.

In the period 1992 to 2000,

  • Nova Scotia's total international trade (imports and exports of goods and services) increased rapidly.
  • Total intN G&S E&I increased 116.5% from $7.2 billion to $15.6 billion.
  • Nova Scotia's gross domestic product increased 35.8% from $18.8 billion to $25.5 billion.
  • The intN trade to GDP ratio, or openness measure, expanded 59.5 points between 1992 (100.0) and 2000 (159.5).

 In the period 2000 to 2017,

  • In the period 2000 to 2017, Nova Scotia's total international trade (imports and exports of goods and services) declined slowly.
  • Total intN G&S E&I increased 30.8% from $15.6 billion to $20.4 billion.
  • Nova Scotia's gross domestic product increased 67.6% from $25.5 billion to $42.7 billion.
  • The intN trade to GDP ratio, or openness measure, contracted 35.0 points between 2000 (159.5) and 2017 (124.4).



Statistics Canada Tables  36-10-0222-01


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