(Refiles to fix garble in first paragraph)
By David Ljunggren
OTTAWA, March 24 The Canadian government wants
to boost exports by 30 percent over the next eight years, but
experts and analysts say the goal is highly ambitious given a
series of major challenges facing exporters.
These include low levels of capital investment by Canadian
firms, a sluggish export sector and uncertainty over what
economic policies U.S. President Donald Trump will introduce.
In a budget unveiled on Wednesday, Liberal Finance Minister
Bill Morneau promised investments in targeted areas such as
advanced manufacturing, clean technology, agri-food and digital
This should help grow the value of goods and services
exports by a total of 30 per cent by 2025, he said. Such a
return would require a compound annual growth of 3.0 percent,
higher than seen in recent years.
"I think it is a stretch ... it is a pretty ambitious goal,"
said Dennis Darby, president of the Canadian Manufacturers and
Exporters group, who nonetheless welcomed Morneau's promise of
Canada already sends around 75 percent of all its goods
exports to the United States and manufacturers are watching
closely to see whether Trump cuts taxes and imposes a border
tariff, both of which would hit Canadian firms.
"Companies are cautious in making additional investments,
they're cautious in expanding, and that will certainly slow
things down," Darby said. Firms are also hampered by a lack of
people to fill skilled trades jobs.
Canada's exports of goods and services grew by a total of 11
percent from 2008 to 2016, a period that includes the global
Robert Wolfe, a professor and trade policy expert at Queen's
University in Kingston, said the government had little control
over factors such as customer demand and the price of
commodities, a key Canadian export.
"It's always hard to set numerical targets on something like
export growth that depends on other people buying your
products," he said.
The Bank of Canada, which has long complained about the weak
performance of non-energy exports, said on Tuesday that "exports
continue to face ongoing competitiveness challenges".
Craig Alexander, chief economist at the Conference Board of
Canada, said the 30 percent target might be hard to reach given
the export sector's woes and the cautious approach taken by some
"Business investment in machinery and equipment is actually
running at below the rate of depreciation so the capital stock
in Canada is getting smaller," he said.
(Reporting by David Ljunggren; Editing by Alistair Bell)