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Agriculture and food add to booming exports

Manitoba’s diversified economy is paying dividends in uncertain times

Manitoba’s export economy is on fire, and the agri-food sector is leading the way.

Export Development Canada said Manitoba is on track to expand exports by four per cent in 2016 and five per cent in 2017, in its semi-annual forecast of global exports, released May 19.

This performance reflects strength across the provincial economy, but particularly in agriculture and food and manufacturing, the report said, noting the Manitoba export economy was one of the most diversified in the country.

“When it comes to exports, we all envy Manitoba,” said Peter Hall, EDC’s chief economist, in a media release. “Even though oil exports have fallen off, other sectors have made up for it. Diversification is what you want. It provides stability that the economy can rely on in volatile times like we’re experiencing now.”

Agri-food, which is Manitoba’s largest export sector and accounts for more than one-third of the province’s exports, will see overall growth of two per cent this year, followed by five per cent growth in 2017.

This positive outlook is being driven by pork meat and hog exports, with increasing Asian demand coming off the heels of the Canada-Korea free trade agreement. EDC also expects Manitoba to benefit from U.S. pork production dropping back to normal levels, after years of record highs.

Within the agri-food sector, Manitoba’s oilseeds and pulse exports will also perform relatively well this year and next. The strength of these subsectors will help offset this year’s decline in wheat exports.

Despite relatively strong wheat production in the province, global demand for wheat is expected to be weaker due to high inventories and strong production from the United States, China and India.

In the manufacturing sector, motor vehicles are experiencing a 22 per cent increase and aerospace a 16 per cent increase this year. Companies like bus manufacturer New Flyer Industries are leading the charge with several important contract wins in 2016.

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