indicatorThe Owl

Room to grow

Alberta’s exports to the U.K.

By Rob Roach, ATB Economics 1 May 2024 2 min read

My wife and I recently had the privilege to travel to the United Kingdom (with stops in Edinburgh, Cambridge, London and Windsor).

Of the over 100 locals who asked us where we were from, exactly zero had heard of Alberta or Calgary. We’d mention the 1988 Olympics, but that was 36 years ago, and it didn’t lead to any light bulbs going off.

It’s anecdotal evidence, but this lack of awareness about our home is a useful reminder of just how crowded it is on the global stage. Alberta’s economy is no slouch, but we are competing with a long list of better known stars for the capital, talent and customers we need to prosper.

With that in mind, today’s Owl takes a quick look at Alberta’s merchandise exports to the U.K. (Unfortunately, comparable statistics on the export of services from Alberta to the U.K. are not available.)

Despite being the sixth largest economy in the world, the U.K. doesn’t make the top ten list of Alberta’s largest customers (it was 14th last year).

Although important to the businesses involved, the $285 million worth of goods we sold to U.K. buyers last year represented just 0.2% of Alberta’s total exports.*

If we exclude the $156 billion worth of goods we exported to the United States last year, the U.K.’s share of the remaining total rises, but is still small at 1.5%—about the same as Italy and the United Arab Emirates.

Nationally, the U.K. looms a bit larger at 4th on the list of Canada’s largest customers, 1.8% of total merchandise exports last year and 8.2% excluding the United States. Alberta accounted for 2.0% of Canada’s exports to the U.K. last year.

So what do we sell to our U.K. friends? Wheat tops the list at 28.0% of Alberta’s exports to the U.K. last year, followed by crude oil (22%), machinery (15%), electrical equipment (7%) and measuring instruments (4%).

Increasing exports to another country is not easy and can be quite risky. With that said, there does seem to be room for Alberta businesses to grow their sales to the U.K. There is even a free trade agreement between the U.K. and Canada already in place.

*Alberta imported $647 million worth of goods from the U.K. (1.6% of Alberta’s total international imports) but this does not include U.K. imports sold in Alberta that arrived via other provinces. Top imports include machinery, whiskey, measuring instruments, plastic, and vehicles/parts.

Answer to the previous trivia question: According to the IEA’s Global EV Outlook 2024, electric car sales (including plug-in hybrids) neared 14 million in 2023.

Today’s trivia question: What is the population of the United Kingdom?

Alberta's merchandise exports to the United Kingdom were worth $285 million in 2023

Alberta's merchandise exports to the United Kingdom were worth $285 million in 2023

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