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[OTTAWA] Canada's trade minister on Friday predicted a rise in Christmas tree exports this season, amid reported shortages in the United States.
America's northern neighbor is known for producing bushy, winter-resilient firs, pines and spruces, ideal for decoration during the holiday season.
"Christmas trees represent a key export for Canada," Trade Minister Ed Fast said in a statement.
"Following a decrease in demand for Canadian Christmas trees during the recession in the United States in 2008 and 2009, Canadian tree exports are on the rise, especially due to a Christmas tree shortage in the United States." Canada is the world's largest exporter of Christmas trees, according to the government. In 2013, it shipped over 1.5 million Christmas trees worth C$28 million (US$24 million) to the United States, Japan and other countries.
The shortage of trees looming in the United States - which some growers dispute - is blamed on a dwindling number of local tree farms, severe weather that damaged crops and a spike in demand.
According to the US National Christmas Tree Association, Americans bought just over 33 million Christmas trees last year, up from 24 million in 2012.