Pulse sector bright light amid gloom

TORONTO — The pulse crop industry is faring better than many other sectors of the global economy, and there are even better times ahead, according to Export Development Canada.

“You have the privilege and the might of being inside an industry that is bucking the trend of a lot that is going on in the world,” EDC vice-president Peter Hall told the Pulse and Special Crops Convention.

He described the industry as a juggernaut that is deftly avoiding the economic malaise plaguing many other sectors of the economy.

“Unlike most of the other talks that I give, I have got to stand in front of you and say, ‘do you actually have the capacity to absorb the growth that is coming your way?’ ” said Hall.

The compound annual growth rate for pulse and special crops exports from 2000-15 dwarfs the growth in trade for the rest of the economy.

Many sectors are still reeling from the global economic meltdown of 2008 and the never-ending series of setbacks that have followed.

Just when the global economy seems to be gaining momentum, it gets blindsided by a new event.

In January there was the revelation that the Chinese stock market had shut down, dashing dreams of longstanding and consistent growth from that market.

More recently, the United Kingdom’s decision to withdraw from the European Union put markets into a tailspin.

Hall said there is tremendous pessimism about the economy.

Oil prices are half what they were in mid-2014. Steel markets have tumbled 40 percent during the same time period, while copper is down 30 percent.

“It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen in my entire career, to have something like this, a prolonged period of stagnation,” he said.

However, Hall puts more faith in what he refers to as the “real” economy. The United States has had 68 consecutive months of employment growth, averaging 203,000 new jobs per month.

As well, there have been six consecutive quarters of positive growth in gross domestic product in the European Union.

“Europe is coming back. They don’t even realize it,” he said.

China’s economy has slowed but it is still growing at six percent per year. Meanwhile, India’s economy is humming along at close to eight percent growth.

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