Just finished that movie, The Company Men, with Tommy Lee Jones and Ben with the last name repeated over and over by that duck in the insurance commercial. It’s not a particularly good movie but it does hit on a point that I make here and many others make everywhere – we gotta build stuff if we want to have a strong economy. Not necessarily ships or cars or televisions – it can be software, new technologies, even services but it has to be something of value that we can see beyond our borders.
That’s the problem. Just looking at the provincial trade balance – if you extract the oil coming into the SJ refinery and the refined petroleum products coming out we have gone from more than a $2 billion trade surplus a decade ago to a $700 million trade surplus today. And, of course, much of what we export is lower value added commodities while we import all the higher value stuff – cars, trucks, buses, computers, engineering software, whatever.
The big caveat is that the Stats Can export data doesn’t include services which would help the NB statistics – all the call centre stuff is export-based, as is some of our engineering and IT sector work.
I think I’ll write a more detailed column on this later in the week.