Alberta ranks as Canada’s second-biggest exporter by province or territory behind the front-running province Ontario. The value of Alberta’s exports equals 17.6% of Canada’s overall exported products for 2020, down from 19.8% in 2019.
Based on statistics from the International Monetary Fund, Alberta’s exported products represent 19.4% of the province’s total economic output or real Gross Domestic Product in 2020. Currency used for this calculation was based on US dollars in terms of purchasing power parity in current prices.
Given Alberta’s population of 4.4 million people, its total $68.5 billion in 2020 exports translates to roughly $15,500 for every resident in the Western Canadian province.
Alberta’s unemployment rate was 9.3% at June 2021, up from 8.7% as of March 2020 per YCharts.
Alberta’s Top 10 Exports
The following export products represent the highest dollar value for Alberta’s global shipments during 2020. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Alberta.
Figures are shown at the more granular six-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, for more precise product identification.
- Crude petroleum oils: US$39.1 billion (57.1% of Alberta’s total exports)
- Natural gas (gaseous state): $3 billion (4.4%)
- Wheat (excluding durum): $1.6 billion (2.3%)
- Ethylene-alpha-olefin copolymers: $1.5 billion (2.2%)
- Colza oilseed, rapeseed (low erucic acid): $1.3 billion (1.9%)
- Beef cuts (boneless, fresh/chilled): $1.2 billion (1.7%)
- Coniferous lumber (sawn, chipped, sliced, peeled): $947.4 million (1.4%)
- Miscellaneous petroleum oils: $920.3 million (1.3%)
- Liquified propane: $871.8 million (1.3%)
- Crude canola/colza oil (low erucic acid): $766.2 million (1.1%)
- Oriented wood strand board $656.7 million (1%)
- Ethylene glycol (ethanediol): $638.1 million (0.9%)
- Polyethylene of specific gravity: $587.9 million (0.9%)
- Miscellaneous cattle: $513.4 million (0.7%)
- Chemical woodpulp (coniferous): $480.2 million (0.7%)
Alberta’s top 15 exports accounted for 78.8% of the overall value of the province’s global shipments.
Oriented wood strand board was the fastest grower among Alberta’s top 15 export products, up by 93.8% from 2019 to 2020.
In second place for improving export sales were colza oilseeds and rapeseeds with low erucic acid which rose 47.8% year over year.
Alberta’s shipments of sawn, chipped, sliced or peeled coniferous lumber posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 45.7% ahead of crude canola or colza oils with low erucic acid (up 22.6%) and non-durum wheat (up 16.7%).
The severest revenue decliners among Alberta’s top 10 export products from 2019 to 2020 were natural gas in its gaseous state (down -32.8%), crude petroleum oils (down -30.1%) and miscellaneous petroleum oils (down -28.4%).
More Key Facts
Overall, Alberta earned a $50.5 billion surplus exporting and importing products during 2020. That dollar amount reflects a 25.3% year-over-year decline from $67.6 billion in black ink for 2019.
Another way of saying surplus or deficit is positive or negative net exports. In a nutshell, the term “net exports” quantifies the amount by which foreign spending on a province’s goods or services exceeds or lags that same province’s spending on foreign goods or services.
Below are Alberta’s top 10 import products highlighting the province’s highest spending on foreign-made goods in 2020.
- Light petroleum oils: US$3.3 billion (18.1% of Alberta’s total imports)
- Modems, similar reception/transmission devices: $248.6 million (1.4%)
- Grape wines excluding sparkling varieties: $245.5 million (1.4%)
- Taps, valves, similar appliances: $219.5 million (1.2%)
- Wind-powered electric generating sets $171.8 million (1%)
- Miscellaneous gas turbine parts $132.5 million (0.7%)
- Miscellaneous textile items (like dress patterns, shoe laces) $130.7 million (0.7%)
- Ammonium dihydrogenorthopospha: $128.6 million (0.7%)
- Miscellaneous petroleum oils: $125.6 million (0.7%)
- Saturated acyclic hydrocarbons: $115.4 million (0.6%)
Alberta has highly positive net exports in the international trade of crude oil and natural gas. In turn, these cashflows indicate Alberta’s competitive advantages under related product categories.
The following list shows the top 10 customers that purchased 95.8% worth of the total value of products exported from the province of Alberta during 2020.
- United States: US$57.8 billion (84.3% of Alberta’s total exports)
- China: $3.4 billion (5%)
- Japan: $1.5 billion (2.2%)
- Mexico: $628.5 million (0.9%)
- South Korea: $426.9 million (0.6%)
- Netherlands: $252.3 million (0.4%)
- Indonesia: $226.3 million (0.3%)
- United Arab Emirates: $216.3 million (0.3%)
- France: $210.1 million (0.3%)
- Australia: $194.2 million (0.3%)
Alberta’s top trade partners in North America (United States and Mexico) consumed 85.3% of the overall value of exported goods from The Energy Province during 2020.
Alberta’s Export-Related Companies
Below are some of Canada’s largest businesses that are involved in international trade either directly or indirectly. Their corporate headquarters are in the province of Alberta.
- Enbridge (oil and gas)
- Suncor Energy (oil and gas)
- Canadian Natural Resources (oil and gas)
- TC Energy (oil and gas)
- Husky Energy (oil and gas)
- Canadian Pacific Railway (transportation)
- Pembina Pipeline (oil and gas)
- Cenovus Energy (oil and gas)
Shown within brackets for each company is a summary of the international trade-related products or services which each business manages.
Alberta’s capital is Edmonton, nicknamed “The Big E” and “Edmonchuk”. Edmonton also has a wide range of other nicknames.
See also Canada’s Top 10 Exports, Canada’s Top 10 Imports and Top Canadian Trade Balances
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