Canada’s four eastern provinces might not have the biggest export economies in the country – together they account for only seven per cent of all Canadian exports – but global economic forces like declining energy prices and increased demand for seafood are certainly having an impact in the region.
Nova Scotia’s energy exports have been the hardest hit, down nearly 70 percent this year from 2014, largely due to a sharp decline in natural gas exports, coupled with lower prices. Newfoundland and Labrador has also been hit hard by the lower global price for oil, with the value of its energy exports almost half what they were in 2014. (That said, it’s also expected to see the biggest increase in energy exports in 2016, with EDC forecasting a 13-per-cent jump, helped by slightly higher prices and the return to normal production levels after some longer-than-expected maintenance programs had curtailed output somewhat.) New Brunswick has fared somewhat better, as the volume of its energy exports bounced back this year, but the overall value of those exports still went down due to lower prices.
Only Prince Edward Island, which doesn’t rely on energy for any of its exports, enjoyed an increase in exports in 2015, up a very healthy 12 per cent over last year. That’s largely due to significant growth in its agri-food business, led by higher prices for French fries and continuing international demand for PEI seafood such as lobster. Growing values of seafood exports are also helping the other provinces, particularly New Brunswick, where strong U.S. demand for lobster and salmon, coupled with the weaker Canadian dollar, are boosting agri-food exports by 25 per cent.
But there’s more to these economies than just energy, seafood and potatoes. New Brunswick’s forestry sector, which provides about 13 per cent of the province’s exports, is seeing growth of five per cent this year, with continued growth expected in 2016. Exports by Nova Scotia’s motor vehicles and parts sector are up nine per cent and will grow by a further seven per cent next year. And Prince Edward Island’s up-and-coming chemicals industry produced a 15-per-cent increase in export values this year and can look forward to 10-per-cent growth in 2016.
Taken together, these recoveries in energy exports and growth in other sectors means things are looking good for all four provinces in 2016. Newfoundland and Labrador is forecast to see an 11-per-cent increase in its total exports, New Brunswick should experience seven-per-cent growth, followed by PEI at six per cent and Nova Scotia with four-per-cent growth.
This is just a snapshot of what’s in store for Canada’s eastern provinces. There’s a lot more information about how the global economy is affecting exports from these and other provinces, and by all sectors, in EDC’s Global Export Forecast Fall 2015. Check it out.