C&B Notes

Canada’s Concentration of Exports

U.S governmental/regulatory decisions lead Canada to focus on diversifying the potential destinations for their exports.

Washington’s move last week to delay a decision on a contentious pipeline from the Alberta oil sands to the Gulf of Mexico has added fresh impetus to a drive by Canada to lessen its dependence on the valuable but increasingly unreliable US market…After the U.S. announcement, Alison Redford, Alberta’s provincial premier, said: “Alberta is an export-based economy, and [last week’s] decision is a clear reminder about the strategic importance of diversifying our export markets.”

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The stagnant U.S. economy, especially the housing sector, has also encouraged many Canadian businesses to look farther afield.

The forestry industry in the western province of British Columbia (BC) has poured tens of millions of dollars into a campaign to promote timber as a building material in China.

For several months this year, China has overtaken the U.S. as the biggest market for BC lumber.  The BC government estimates that the surge in exports across the Pacific has helped to keep 24 mills open and protected about 10,000 jobs.

Meanwhile, the federal government has signed trade agreements with nine countries over the past five years.  It aims to wrap up a deal with the European Union in 2012, giving each side greater access to the other’s market for goods and services.  Similar talks are under way with South Korea and India.

With the U.S. taking 90 per cent of Canada’s oil and gas exports, energy industry executives were starting to push for diversification even before the setback to the Keystone XL pipeline project.