Canada is resource-rich, culturally diverse and offers one of the highest qualities of life in the world. Its excellent infrastructure and global connections provide access to key international markets. Globally renowned as one of the world’s most welcoming countries, Canada is an ideal international business hub.
Covid-19 latest information
This guide is an accurate reflection of the pre-Covid-19 business environment in Canada. Please note that due to the current situation, some circumstances may have changed in this country. Figures and data in the guide were last updated in May 2021.
The world’s second largest country by land mass, and a major trading nation, Canada is a top destination for foreign companies and investors. Many are attracted by its stable political environment, geographically and culturally diverse cities, and history of strong economic growth.
HSBC Bank Canada, a subsidiary of HSBC Holdings plc, is one of the leading international banks in the country. Through our three global business lines – Commercial Banking, Global Banking and Markets, and Retail Banking and Wealth Management – we work closely to help companies and individuals do business and manage their finances locally and internationally.
Our local knowledge and global expertise combined with over 150 years’ experience means HSBC Bank Canada is ideally positioned to help your business take advantage of all the opportunities this country has to offer.
This guide provides an introduction to doing business in Canada. As your business grows and your needs become more complex we can continue to provide deep market expertise to help your business continue its growth.
We look forward to working with you and helping your business thrive.
Head office address: Suite 300-885 West Georgia Street, Vancouver, BC V6C 3E9
1 Government of Canada, 2019
2 Knoema, 2021
3 Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), 2018
4 Trading Economics, 2021
5 KPMG, 2018
* Map shows cities of economic significance according to the CIA, 2018
for ease of doing business (in a survey of 190 measured economies by The World Bank)
Canada is one of the largest trading nations in the world, presenting itself as a ‘foreign trade zone’ spanning an entire country.
Canada’s workforce is highly-skilled, and ranks as the best-educated among other Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD) countries.
Canada is a country blessed with many natural resources. It has the third-largest oil reserves of any country, with the vast bulk of it lying in the oil sands of northern Alberta. Its economy also benefits from production and export of its wealth of other resources, including timber, iron ore, coal and precious metals.
Canada’s booming ports provide access to world markets from both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. And the Great Lakes/St Lawrence Seaway, linking Canada with the US heartland, carries 200 million tonnes of commodities annually.
Canada has a long track record of welcoming overseas investors. It has consistently offered low business taxes and efficient set-up. The country ranks sixth in the world in Forbes’ Best Countries for Business table.
Canada spans ice-bound islands and dynamic cities. It mingles British, French and US influences – with a constant cultural mix of new arrivals. The country has embraced its diversity to become a formidable player on the world stage.
After Russia, Canada is the world’s second-largest country by land mass. The territory ranges from the 35,000-plus Arctic islands of the north to the temperate southern lowlands.
For every Canadian, there are around 60 acres of Canada, though in fact most of the population lives within 200 miles of the US border. Toronto and Montreal are the biggest and most influential cities; Vancouver is the largest port and a centre for international trade; and the federal capital is Ottawa, in south-east Ontario.
Canada is divided into 10 provinces and three vast northern territories. Formally, it remains a constitutional monarchy, with Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and approximately 30 other independent countries, as head of state.
Canada plays an active part in world affairs as a member of the Commonwealth and the G7, and is a founding member of the United Nations and the OECD.
Read on to discover more about the dos and don’ts of doing business in Canada. Also find out how trading in or with the country could help boost the future growth of your business.
A host of regulations govern trading between provinces. These include requiring food producers to get an additional permit to sell outside their province and restrictions around selling alcohol between provinces. Interprovincial trade laws can make trading more difficult for businesses and add as much as 7% to the cost of goods for consumers.
The flip side of Canada’s abundant natural resources is its exposure to changing global demand. Alberta suffered in the oil price slump after 2014, while other provinces and territories rely on continued demand for metals and forestry products.
Although regarded as one of the world’s more stable currencies, the Canadian dollar is sensitive to export demand in oil, gas and commodities. When oil prices declined in 2014, the Canadian dollar suffered a 15% depreciation against the US dollar in six months.
Many Canadian cities, once relatively inexpensive places to move to, have seen house purchase prices soar in recent years, specifically in major cities of Vancouver and Toronto. The Organisation for OECD has also warned of rising rent costs and low vacancy rates in Vancouver and Toronto.
1 Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development, 2017