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Export Markets

In 2015, Alberta exports of primary and processed agricultural and food products (agri-food) set a new record at $10.2 billion, surpassing the 2014 record by 4.5 per cent. Gains were reported mainly in exports of value added products, owing to relatively high meat prices and the low Canadian dollar. Nationally, Alberta accounted for 18.0 per cent of the Canadian total, and remained the third largest exporter of agri-food products after Saskatchewan and Ontario.

Export Products

Exports of value added products rose for the second consecutive year, up 12.5 per cent to $4.8 billion and represented 47.2 per cent of Alberta’s total. Meats were the largest value added export, followed by french fries, canola oil, prepared animal feeds, canola cake and meal, and malt. Exports of primary commodities (animals and crops), declined about 2.0 per cent to $5.4 billion in 2015, and accounted for 52.8 per cent of Alberta’s total exports. The decline was a result of lower exports of oilseeds and live cattle.

In the crop sector, exports of major grains were slightly higher, while exports of oilseeds were lower in both, value and quantity in 2015. Wheat exports rose 3.6 per cent in value and 3.1 per cent in quantity. Top markets for wheat were the United States, Indonesia, Japan, Peru and Bangladesh. Exports of canola seed declined 5.1 per cent in value and 6.4 per cent in quantity. For the third consecutive year, China was the largest market for canola seed, followed by Japan, Mexico and Pakistan. Among the other crops, declines were reported dry peas, mustard seed and hay and fodder.

In the livestock sector, as a result of high prices, exports of beef rose 18.7 per cent to $1.7 billion with quantity up 2.1 per cent. While beef exports rose, exports of live cattle (excluding purebred) fell 18.1 per cent in value from the 2014 high, and the quantity was down 37.3 per cent. On the other hand, exports of live hogs increased in quantity but declined in value. Pork exports grew marginally in value, while quantity rose at a higher rate. The United States was Alberta’s largest market for live cattle, hogs and beef.

Trading Partners

In 2015, Alberta’s top export markets for agri-food products were the United States, China, Japan, Mexico and South Korea. Exports to these five countries were worth $7.5 billion, representing almost three-quarters of Alberta’s total agri-food exports.

The United States (US) continues to be Alberta’s largest trading partner, accounting for 39.3 per cent of the total agri-food exports. In 2015, exports to this market were almost $4.0 billion. Substantial increases occurred in exports of value added products such as meats, crude canola oil, prepared animal feed, french fries and processed cereals. These increases moderated declines in primary commodity exports. Commodity exports fell 18.6 per cent from 2014, mainly due to lower export values and quantities of major crops and live animals. The US remained Alberta’s sole export market for non-purebred live cattle and hogs and accounted for almost 70.0 per cent of the province’s total beef exports (quantity).

Exports to China, Alberta’s second largest market in 2015, grew 19.5 per cent to $1.6 billion. The growth was a result of significantly larger exports of beef, crude canola oil and wheat. In 2012 and 2013, crude canola oil was the second largest export to China, after canola seed. In 2015, beef became the second largest export, growing from $39 million in 2014 to $235 million. Exports of canola seed fell 11.9 per cent to $690 million. Canola seed, beef and crude canola oil combined, made up over 70.0 per cent of Alberta’s total agri-food exports to China.

Exports to Japan, Alberta’s third largest market, fell for the third year in a row, down 8.1 per cent to $1.1 billion in 2015. Lower exports of canola seed, wheat, barley and beef, contributed to the decline. Canola seed ($357 million), the largest export to Japan, fell 15.2 per cent in value and 16.4 per cent in quantity. Moderating these declines were higher exports of pork, horse meat, malt, french fries and processed cereals. Pork, the second largest export to this market rose 5.3 per cent to $199.0 million.

Exports to Mexico, Alberta’s fourth largest market, rose 6.6 per cent to $572 million in 2015. Larger exports of beef, pork, malt, milled cereals and canola seed, partially offset lower exports of wheat. Beef exports grew 4.6 per cent to $143 million, and canola was up 1.6 per cent to $252 million. Canola seed, beef and wheat combined, made up 85.2 per cent of Alberta’s total agri-food exports to this market.

Exports to South Korea, Alberta’s fifth largest export market, grew by 2.1 per cent to $233 million in 2015. Substantial increases were reported in exports of hides and skins, crude canola oil and pork. Moderating these increases were lower exports of wheat, beef and malt. Wheat, Alberta’s top export product to South Korea in 2014, fell 68.6 per cent to $23.6 million, from $75.0 million in 2015.

At the regional level, the largest exports were reported for North America and Asia. Exports to Asia rose 11.2 per cent to $3.9 billion or 39.0 per cent of Alberta’s total agri-food exports. The highest growth occurred in exports to Western Europe (22.6 per cent), Oceania (17.5 per cent), Africa (8.3 per cent) and Central America (7.9 per cent). On the other hand, exports to Eastern Europe, the Middle East and South America declined.

New West Partnership Trade Agreement

The New West Partnership Trade Agreement creates a single economic region encompassing British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan. The implementation of the NWPTA presents a great opportunity for continued economic growth in all three provinces.

Some of the benefits of the NWPTA include the following:

  • Canada’s most open and competitive economy
    British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan have a market of almost nine million people and a Gross Domestic Product of more than $651 billion.
  • Labour mobility
    Labour mobility provisions allow certified workers to practice their occupation in the three provinces without being subject to additional exams or training requirements.
  • Business registration
    Businesses registrants in one province are now able to seamlessly register in the other provinces at the same time as their original incorporation. All residency requirements are removed.
  • Streamlined regulations
    Unnecessary differences in business standards and regulations will have been eliminated.
  • Enhanced competitiveness
    Allowing goods, services, capital and workers to flow freely across the British Columbia-Alberta-Saskatchewan borders boosts trade, makes it easier for businesses to expand into the other provinces, and lowers costs for businesses and taxpayers.
  • Best value for public spending
    Open procurement policies with low thresholds help ensure best value for tax dollars. This also creates more opportunities for small- and medium-sized businesses to bid on public contracts.
  • An accessible bid protest mechanism
    The bid protest mechanism enables Alberta, BC, and Saskatchewan suppliers to challenge procurements undertaken by a public entity in Alberta, BC, or Saskatchewan where the supplier perceives that a procurement has not been conducted in a fair, open, and transparent manner, as required by the NWPTA.

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