indicatorThe Owl

Alberta's exports in 2023

Foreign sales come off record highs on lower prices

By Rob Roach, ATB Economics 8 February 2024 1 min read

Alberta’s international exports* are measured in terms of their value in Canadian dollars. As a result, changes in the price of commodities like crude oil and wheat can cause large swings in the data and last year’s results are no exception.

At $175 billion, total merchandise exports in 2023 were the second highest on record and 27% higher than two years earlier in 2021. But, because of softer prices, the annual tally was 15% lower than in 2022 when it hit a record high of $205 billion.

Energy products (mostly oil, natural gas, and refined petroleum) are at the centre of this. Energy products accounted for 75% of Alberta’s total exports last year. As a result, the 19% ($30 billion) drop in the value of energy exports stemming from lower prices pulled total exports down.

Energy was not the only product category to lose ground in 2023 (metals, minerals, chemicals, plastics, and forestry also posted lower numbers). But energy’s outsized impact means that—if we remove it from the equation—we find that Alberta’s exports went up by 15% last year. Non-energy exports were driven higher by increased sales of food products, machinery, electronics, transportation products, and consumer goods.

Nationally, the value of international merchandise exports contracted by 2% last year.

Alberta comprised a quarter of Canada’s total merchandise exports in 2023.

*The trade data in today’s Owl is on a customs rather than balance of payments basis.

Answer to the previous trivia question: The United States is the world’s largest producer of natural gas.

Today’s trivia question: Which country is the largest trading partner of the United States (as measured by the combined value of merchandise exports and imports)?

The dollar value of Alberta's merchandise exports was $175 billion in 2023

The dollar value of Alberta's merchandise exports was $175 billion in 2023

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