Atlantic Canada’s international export performance has improved since the mid-1990s with a significant boost from energy exports after 1999. The three-fold increase in energy exports between 1999 and 2002 accounted for 82% of the growth in Atlantic Canada’s merchandise exports over this period. These energy exports reflect increased shipments of refined petroleum and offshore crude oil and natural gas. This Report Card provides an overview of recent trends in international export performance in each Atlantic province.
Alberta’s energy-driven economic boom is creating a substantial increase in the demand for workers and stimulating a huge influx of migrants, including Atlantic Canadians. While net migration from Atlantic Canada to Alberta is at a record high, total annual outmigration from the Atlantic region to all Canadian provinces is still below previous peaks.
Buoyed by investments in energy, infrastructure and other initiatives, the region has seen three consecutive years of 3%+ growth for the first time since the mid-1980s. However, this is likely to change in 2001. A number of major projects have wrapped up and a slowdown in the United States has put the brakes on strong growth in the region’s economy. The 18th edition of APEC’s Major Projects Inventory identifies 221 projects in various stages of development across Atlantic Canada, ranked according to their likelihood of being developed.
The 19th edition of APEC’s Major Projects Inventory identifies 241 projects in various stages of development across Atlantic Canada valued at $44.4 billion, up 19% over last year’s Inventory. Energy and mining investments continue to dominate the list, accounting for about 78% of all Inventory projects. While the overall Inventory is up over last year, activity in 2002 is more muted. Construction is scheduled to begin on three major energy developments in 2003-04, which should make the Atlantic provinces among the economic growth leaders in the country once again.
Foreign direct investment (FDI) is becoming an increasingly important part of the Canadian economy, yet the available evidence suggests that the amount of FDI flowing into the Atlantic region is small relative to the size of its economy. Based upon a database compiled by APEC, call centres are the largest employers, followed by manufacturing and the retail sector. The United States is by far the biggest investor in the region. Foreign firms make an important contribution to the provincial economies in Atlantic Canada, boosting investment, employment and exports.
The world economy is again adjusting to a significant increase in oil prices. Since 2002, oil prices have more than doubled and in early October, they were almost 50% higher than in December 2004. With the economy at full production capacity, the Bank of Canada has indicated that interest rates will need to rise further to keep core inflation on target. With respect to economic growth, Newfoundland and Labrador is expected to lead regional and national rankings next year.
This report reviews the Atlantic Canadian energy sector, its resource potential, and energy markets that the region could contribute toward. This research enables an assessment of how important the energy sector will be to the economic growth of Atlantic Canada.
The 22nd edition of APEC’s Major Projects Inventory identifies 294 actual and potential investment projects across Atlantic Canada, valued at $48 billion. The Inventory indicates investment spending in Atlantic Canada will likely slow down in 2006, as for the first time in over a decade, there is no multi-billion project ready to begin. Some mega-projects could start before the end of the decade, although some uncertainty is associated with these efforts.
A huge increase in revenues from Atlantic Canada’s international energy exports is masking the stagnation in the region’s non-energy sector. International sales of energy products have doubled since 2000 to reach $12.3 billion in 2005. However, aggregate non-energy merchandise exports from the Atlantic provinces have stalled at about $12 billion since 2000. Exporters have had to cope with a 40% appreciation of the Canadian dollar since January 2003, increasing competition from low-cost producers, higher energy and transportation costs, and weak demand in some sectors.
The energy sector continues to be the major driver of economic growth in Atlantic Canada. However, the mix of energy projects is changing, as electricity generation and distribution projects now hold a much greater presence and the oil and gas industry has shown a waning influence. The 23rd edition of the Inventory identifies 357 projects in various stages of development across Atlantic Canada. The total value this year is $53.7 billion, up nearly 12% over last year’s Inventory. The accompanying issue of Atlantic Report details related developments, including demand for energy in the U.S.