Canadian Non-Energy Exports: Past Performance and Future Prospects

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Canada has continued to lose market share in the United States since the Great Recession, beyond what our bilateral competitiveness measures (relative unit labour costs) would suggest. In this context, we have studied 31 non?energy export categories to assess their individual performance against a category-specific foreign activity measure or benchmark, and to identify which export subaggregates will likely be supported by the recent depreciation of the Canadian dollar. Our main findings are: (i) among the 31 subsectors of non-energy exports, about half (in value terms) have either been performing as expected or outperforming their benchmarks; (ii) the remaining subsectors have lagged their benchmarks, mainly owing to longer-term structural declines; (iii) around half of the subsectors appear to be quite sensitive to persistent movements in the exchange rate; and (iv) about half of the non-energy export subaggregates are anticipated to lead the recovery, including those likely to benefit from robust growth in U.S. construction, U.S. investment in machinery and equipment, and/or the recent depreciation of the Canadian dollar.