N.S. poised for leap forward in exports

11/9/2012

Nova Scotia will lead the country in export growth next year, Export Development Canada predicted Thursday.

Exports of goods and services from this province will jump by 17 per cent in 2013. That will compare with six per cent export growth nationally next year.

Peter Hall, the agency’s chief economist, said Nova Scotia will see exports bounce back after a 14 per cent drop this year.

“You look at the number and it’s definitely blockbuster growth,” Hall said in an interview from Ottawa.

“Seventeen per cent is not a number that you see very much in the world economy, the Canadian economy or any provincial economy.”

International sales in the province are being affected in 2012 by lower natural gas prices and production from Sable Offshore Energy, as did the closure of the former NewPage Port Hawkesbury paper mill.

The export credit agency said the start of production from Encana Corp.’s Deep Panuke gas project, alongside the restart of the idled Point Tupper paper operation, will help lift international sales next year.

Deep Panuke is expected to begin flow gas by the end of the year. An Encana spokeswoman said no further update on the time frame was available Thursday.

Forestry will lead Nova Scotia’s international trade in 2013, with exports expected to surge ahead 103 per cent following a 50 per cent drop this year.

The agency said export volumes will jump because Port Hawkesbury Paper Corp., as the mill is now known, began production in October.

Resolute Forest Product’s Bowater Mersey paper plant in Brooklyn, Queens County, shut its doors this spring, but its markets were mostly domestic, Hall said.

A brighter outlook south of the border will also fuel international sales next year for other key sectors.

The auto parts industry is forecast to gain 10 per cent in 2013, an improvement over four per cent growth this year.

Hall said Michelin’s tire business will benefit from higher sales in the United States and better prices for its products.

“Between those things, the auto parts portion of trade is going to see double-digit growth. That’s quite apart from shutdowns and activity coming back on stream. It’s organic growth.”

The agri-food sector, which is primarily fish and fish products, is expecting a five per cent boost in 2013 after nine per cent growth this year.

Higher shipments of lobster, crab and shrimp will drive the gains. Aquaculture will also continue to be key, Hall said.

“Nova Scotia’s focus on sustainable seafood products is creating lucrative global opportunities and has the potential to command premium prices,” he said in a news release.

The forecast made note of Clearwater’s efforts in sustainable products.

International trade was worth $4.4 billion for Nova Scotia in 2011, or $3.9 billion excluding energy sales.

The province depends on three sectors — fish and fish production, motor-vehicle parts and forestry — for two-thirds of its exports.

(The Chronicle Herald)