indicatorThe Twenty-Four

Bumpy but growing

Alberta’s trade with China on the rise

By Mark Parsons, ATB Economics 16 May 2024 1 min read

Today’s Owl looks at Alberta’s trade relationship with China, the province’s largest export market after the United States.

China accounted for 29% of Alberta’s merchandise exports to non-US markets last year. In fact, China has been in the second spot every year for the last two decades, with the exception of 2022 when a jump in propane exports to Japan temporarily put China in third.

Last year, Alberta exported goods worth $5.5 billion to China, up 8.4% from 2022 and nearly 10 times higher than what it was 25 years ago.

What does Alberta sell to China? Oil seeds (24%), organic chemicals like ethylene glycol (13%), cereals (13%) and wood pulp (12%) were Alberta’s top exports to China last year.

With nearly $1.3 billion worth of oil seeds sold to Chinese buyers in 2023, China is Alberta’s largest customer in the international canola market. Note that sales have finally recovered after taking a big hit (down 73% in 2019) when China banned canola imports from Canada.

Meanwhile, beef producers are still facing the impacts of China’s ban on Canadian beef products due to a rare variant of classical bovine spongiform encephalopathy, found on an Alberta farm in December 2021. In 2023, Alberta’s animal slaughtering and processing exports to China were 65% lower compared to where they stood in 2021.

Alberta is also a big consumer of Chinese products. A record $5.0 billion worth of goods were imported by Alberta from China last year, up 5.6% from 2022 levels and second-highest after the U.S.

Looking ahead, there is a risk that political and economic tensions could disrupt trade and existing supply chains. Canada may, for example, follow the lead of the U.S. and impose tariffs on electric vehicles from China.

Answer to the previous trivia question: The total land and water area of China (9.7 million square kilometres) is greater than that of Brazil (8.5 million square kilometres).

Today’s trivia question: Which Chinese province is the most populous?

Alberta’s merchandise exports to China in 2023 reached $5.6 billion in 2023, the highest on record

Alberta’s merchandise exports to China in 2023 reached $5.6 billion in 2023, the highest on record

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