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B.C.-Alberta economic ties run deep


Vancouver, BC — The Business Council of British Columbia has released an update of its previous 2017 report, Ties That Bind: Economic Interdependence Between B.C. and Alberta, that underscores the importance of trade and the movement of people between the two provinces. The report shows that the B.C. and Alberta economies continue to be highly interdependent and are arguably the most intertwined of any two provinces in the federation.

“Despite the time that has passed since we released the original report in 2017, the data has not significantly changed,” said Greg D’Avignon, President and CEO of the Business Council of British Columbia (BCBC). “The value of trade in goods and services between B.C. and Alberta remains impressive and is evidence of the strongest two-way trade relationship in the country. The same is true of the two-way movement of people.”

Highlights from the updated report include:

  • The total value of goods and services traded between B.C. and Alberta amounts to more than $30 billion annually.
  • C. exports more merchandise to Alberta than it does to China; similarly, Alberta exports more to B.C. than it does to all of Asia.
  • The value of service exports between B.C. and Alberta exceeds the value of trade in goods between the two provinces.
  • C. and Alberta have the highest level of interprovincial migration of any two provinces.
  • Trade, capital flows, migration, and interprovincial employment between Alberta and B.C. serve to bolster economic growth and prosperity in both provinces. These linkages and economic benefits have been enhanced by the New West Partnership Agreement.

The report’s author Ken Peacock, Vice President and Chief Economist at BCBC, commented, “The latest data clearly show that while there are some ebbs and flows in economic activity, the Alberta and B.C. economies are highly integrated, which enhances growth and prosperity in both provinces.”

A review of the top 25 exports for each province shows the breadth of the trading relationship and confirms that energy — oil and natural gas — are the most significant traded products, with Alberta and B.C. exporting over $2.6 and $2.2 billion in refined petroleum and natural gas products respectively to one another. While both provinces have gained from steady growth in exports to fast-growing Asian economies, B.C. exports more merchandise to Alberta than it does to China, while Alberta sells more to B.C. than it does to all of Asia.

“As the gateway for Alberta products traded with Asia, B.C. garners more than $2 billion in export earnings every year by providing transportation and related services to Alberta,” said Mr. Peacock. “Capital investments in port and related transportation infrastructure also benefit both provinces.”

The economies of B.C. and Alberta have been comparatively strong for some time, albeit with some bumps along the way. B.C. and Alberta are the only two provinces in which real GDP growth has averaged more than 2% over the past decade — B.C. has led the country at an average of 2.4%, followed closely by Alberta at 2.2%.

Over the past ten years, more than 225,000 British Columbians have relocated to Alberta, while approximately 253,000 Albertans have moved to B.C. In total, the two-way movement of people between the two provinces amounts to almost half a million people in the past decade.

“We have more economic, people and business ties that bind families, communities and industries than the current debate acknowledges. Trade in goods and services between B.C. and Alberta is represented by more than a pipeline,” said Mr. D’Avignon. “Our collective prosperity in a very competitive world is dependent on the two provinces working together to find practical solutions and to leverage our collective strengths to achieve continued economic success.”

Amid the ongoing intergovernmental dispute over pipeline expansion, the Business Council urges political leaders in B.C. and Alberta to avoid any actions that could threaten trade flows and other economic linkages between the two provinces.

Download a full copy of the BCBC’s updated report here.