Economic data from the first few weeks of the COVID-19 lockdown are starting to trickle in and, as expected, the results are not good.
March’s international trade report from Statistics Canada illustrated the initial effects of a burgeoning pandemic on North American producers.
Lower trade between Canada and the U.S. pushed total Canadian merchandise trade to its lowest monthly level since January 2018. Exports fell 4.7 per cent in March, with lower shipments to the U.S accounting for about 80 per cent of the overall decline. Imports were down 3.5 per cent, almost all on account of lower shipments from the U.S.
The declines in March reflected lower shipments of motor vehicles and parts as automakers and several parts suppliers began to shutdown production as public health measures to contain COVID-19 were being implemented.
Declines in aircraft and aircraft equipment also contributed to the reduction in trade as production in this sector was also impacted by those same public health measures.
Production stoppages in the transportation sector continued through April and are expected to impact exports and import levels for months to come.