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Modest economic gains in Atlantic Canada despite new trade measures

Construction is well underway on the St. Anthony Non-Profit Seniors Housing Complex.
Construction is well underway on the St. Anthony Non-Profit Seniors Housing Complex. - Stephen Roberts

P.E.I. leads the way

Prince Edward Island continues to lead the region on many economic indicators in the first half of 2018, according to the latest Atlantic Currents report from the Atlantic Provinces Economic Council (APEC).

“Nova Scotia and New Brunswick are both growing below the national rate,” says APEC’s Senior Policy Analyst, Fred Bergman. “…Newfoundland and Labrador’s economy remains the weakest in the region.”

The uncertainty over NAFTA is dampening investment plans in the region, Canada’s response to U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum products took effect July 1 and APEC estimates that Canada’s countermeasures to the tariffs will increase the cost of Atlantic Canada’s U.S. imports by at least $18 million.

“While there are no steel and aluminum refineries in Atlantic Canada, there are primary metal and metal fabrication firms that reply on steel and aluminum as key inputs,” says Bergman.

Prince Edward Island continues to show solid growth, aided by further gains in employment. But, there is some softening in housing and exports.

The Island leads the country in employment growth, up 2.6 per cent during the first seven months of 2018. The country’s smallest province is leading the nation in the fastest retail sales in the first half of 2018. While housing starts are down four per cent due to weak July numbers, they are still at historically high levels – 55 per cent larger than 2016.
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