That whole export thing

I don’t know why the media just doesn’t come out and state that exports – not including energy – continue to decline in New Brunswick.

Part of the problem is Export Development Canada. Like any organization, they want to get their data published in local media so they put up sensational headlines like “N.B. to lead in export growth“. Now how do we square the EDC headline with the Conference Board headline that says NB will struggle significantly next year?

Simple. Other than more oil and LNG exports (maybe some more gas from Sussex), NB’s export position is seriously hurting. I don’t have the data in front of me but we are down hundreds of millions per year in non-energy related exports from the peak a few years ago while the rest of Canada has been increasing.

I realize the story here is that exports are projected to rise and I don’t have a problem with the media getting all revved up about that. But it seems to me a basic fact like “all other exports in total are declining” should be at least mentioned – if not the subtext of the story.

The reason is simple. Energy exports create among the lowest economic value added of any sector of the economy. It takes thousands of people to generate a billion in seafood exports but only a couple of hundred or even less to generate a billion in energy exports.