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Manitoba exports on the rise for 2013

RUTH BONNEVILLE / Winnipeg Free Press
Peter Hall of Export Development Canada has bold predictions for province.

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RUTH BONNEVILLE / Winnipeg Free Press Peter Hall of Export Development Canada has bold predictions for province.

A long-awaited U.S. economic recovery and a strong global agri-food market will help fuel a seven per cent increase in exports for Manitoba in 2013, the latest forecast from Export Development Canada predicts.

EDC said Manitoba firms are expected to export $13.1 billion in goods next year -- up from a projected $12.3 billion this year and $11.7 billion in 2011.

Other provinces are expected to see export sales growth of between three per cent and 17 per cent next year, while Canada's exports are expected to grow by 6.3 per cent.

"In spite of the strong Canadian dollar, Manitoba's manufacturing sector is on a tear, with rising sales in a number of key sectors, including aerospace, buses and agricultural equipment," said Peter Hall, the EDC's chief economist.

"This performance is no doubt aided substantially by its superior industrial and regional diversification."

Hall said the last global recession eroded Manitoba's export sector, with the number of exporters declining to 1,156 in 2010 from 1,263 in 1999.

"Manitoba retained a relatively high level of exports to emerging markets, between 20 and 23 per cent, during the same time frame," he said. "Next year's gains will be by rapid emerging-market sales and revived U.S. growth, giving exporters the best of both worlds."

The EDC noted agri-food, industrial goods and machinery/equipment account for three-quarters of the province's total international sales.

And agri-food and machinery/equipment will be two of the strongest performers again in 2013, it said, with projected sales growth of 14 per cent and nine per cent, respectively.

Agri-food will be coming off a strong year, which has seen sales jump by an estimated 12 per cent in 2012.

"Soaring grain prices, a result of the U.S. drought and continued tight global supply conditions, boosted this year's numbers," Hall said.

"The 2012 bumper crop will give next year's growth an additional boost," he added.

This year has also been a good one for the machinery/equipment sector, with sales up an estimated 17 per cent.

"We expect a surge in sales of agricultural machinery as higher food prices spur investment in farm operations around the world," Hall said.

Another star performer in 2013 will be the transportation sector. Hall said the aerospace industry should see a surge in exports of aircraft parts by Boeing Winnipeg as production of the 787 Dreamliner ramps up.

"Shipments of buses are also up a stunning 40 per cent so far this year, benefiting from improving economic conditions in the U.S."

The industrial-goods sector has been struggling, with sales down a projected 12 per cent this year and a further decline forecast in 2013.

murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

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