Goal 6

Firms Participating In Export Trade - Deep Dive

The number of Nova Scotia firms participating in export trade will have increased by 50 per cent.


Firms Participating In Export Trade

The industries with the largest numbers of international merchandise exporting establishments in Nova Scotia are goods producing industries — mainly manufacturing and agriculture and fishing — as well as service industries that participate in both wholesale and retail trade.

IndustryNumber of Exporting Establishments
Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting93
Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction11
Wholesale trade258
Retail trade87
Transportation and warehousing46
Information and cultural industries12
Finance and insurance6
Real estate and rental and leasing14
Professional, scientific and technical services41
Management of companies and enterprises14
Administrative and support, waste management and remediation services8
Educational services4
Health care and social assistance4
Arts, entertainment and recreation8
Accommodation and food services3
Other services (except public administration)16
Public administration6

The manufacturing industry accounted for 69 per cent of Nova Scotia’s merchandise exports in 2016. It also produced $11.5 million dollars in exports — the largest value of exports per exporting establishment. Wholesale trade accounted for another 20 per cent of the province’s merchandise exports, while agriculture and fishing accounted for 4.9 per cent. Combined, these three industries generated 94 per cent of Nova Scotia’s merchandise exports, and represent 68 per cent of the province’s exporting establishments.

Agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting2.581526882
Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction6.356727273
Wholesale trade3.75894186
Retail trade0.099678161
Transportation and warehousing0.682804348
Information and cultural industries0.048583333
Finance and insurance2.549
Real estate and rental and leasing0.862785714
Professional, scientific and technical services0.62002439
Management of companies and enterprises3.082
Administrative and support, waste management and remediation services0.139
Educational services1.42125
Health care and social assistance0.408
Arts, entertainment and recreation0.0175
Accommodation and food services6.717666667
Other services (except public administration)0.1565625
Public administration0.301166667


Digging further into the manufacturing sector, food manufacturing had the largest number of merchandise exporting establishments.

Food manufacturing74
Beverage and tobacco product manufacturing9
Textile mills3
Textile product mills5
Clothing manufacturing4
Leather and allied product manufacturing3
Wood product manufacturing22
Paper manufacturing8
Printing and related support activities8
Petroleum and coal product manufacturing0
Chemical manufacturing13
Plastics and rubber products manufacturing25
Non-metallic mineral product manufacturing6
Primary metal manufacturing0
Fabricated metal product manufacturing19
Machinery manufacturing26
Computer and electronic product manufacturing18
Electrical equipment, appliance and component manufacturing6
Transportation equipment manufacturing17
Furniture and related product manufacturing11
Miscellaneous manufacturing18

The value of exports per exporting establishment by manufacturing sub-sector highlights two of the province’s traditional export industries – pulp and paper manufacturing and tire manufacturing. Both show significantly above average export value per establishment.

Sub-sectorMillions of Dollars
Food manufacturing11.92556757
Beverage and tobacco product manufacturing0.162888889
Textile mills9.292666667
Textile product mills7.2454
Clothing manufacturing1.4425
Leather and allied product manufacturing0.065666667
Wood product manufacturing2.540227273
Paper manufacturing49.596625
Printing and related support activities0.0425
Chemical manufacturing5.869
Plastics and rubber products manufacturing62.1452
Non-metallic mineral product manufacturing2.370833333
Fabricated metal product manufacturing0.918842105
Machinery manufacturing4.6385
Computer and electronic product manufacturing6.340277778
Electrical equipment, appliance and component manufacturing3.951333333
Transportation equipment manufacturing4.153058824
Furniture and related product manufacturing0.226272727
Miscellaneous manufacturing0.177277778

Of the province’s 953 establishments participating in international merchandise exports in 2016, just over two-thirds exported to a single country. However, the 296 establishments that exported to two or more countries accounted for 77 per cent of the total value of merchandise exports, and had a much higher export value per establishment.

GroupNumber of Establishments
1 partner country657
2 or more partner countries296


Looking at the province’s largest merchandise export destinations, 703 establishments exported to the United States in 2016, accounting for 70 per cent of the value of merchandise exports. Exports to the United States also had the largest value per establishment. Though Nova Scotian exports have been largely destined for the United States, there has been significant growth in the number of firms exporting to, and the value of exports destined for, Asian markets. From 2010 to 2015, the value of merchandise exports from Nova Scotia to Asian markets has more than doubled, displacing Europe as the province’s second largest export market. In particular, firms exporting to China, Japan, and South Korea have steadily grown.

Nova Scotia's 10 Largest Export Destinations, 2016
  Value of Exports
Number of Establishments*

Value per Establishment

United States  $       3,430,057 703

$        4,879

China  $           445,577 105

$        4,244

Japan  $           126,049 63

$        2,001

France $              80,508 92

$           875

United Kingdom $              78,085 104

$           751

Mexico $              67,671 21

$        3,222

Hong Kong $              66,306 55

$        1,206

South Korea $              62,227 67

$           929

Germany $              40,759 72

$           566

Belgium $              33,973 37

$           918

*Note that the sum of the exporting establishments column exceeds the provincial total of 953. This is because some establishments export to two or more countries.

GroupValue (Thousands of Dollars)
1 partner country1718.385084
2 or more partner countries12767.55743

Changes to the indicator, baseline, or target:

  • We were not able to replicate the baseline number quoted in the Report of the Nova Scotia Commission on Building our New Economy.
  • A new data source has since become available from Statistics Canada, which was adopted here.
  • This new data source measures the number of business establishments participating in international merchandise exports. Note that an establishment is not the same as a business. A business can own multiple establishments.
  • The change in indicator results in a new, higher baseline, but the target is still assumed to require 50% growth over the baseline.