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International Exports

COVID-19: Atlantic Canada International Exports Update
As of June 4, 2020

  • Today’s export numbers show Atlantic Canada’s international merchandise exports fell 44% year-over-year in April which follows a 21% drop year-over-year in March.   The decline in April was larger than the 35% reduction nationally.
  • Regionally, exports fell the most in Newfoundland and Labrador (54% in April) and New Brunswick (39%).
  • The combined reduction in the value of Atlantic exports in March and April was $1.8 billion.
  • The World Trade Organization forecasts global export volumes will fall between 13% and 32% in 2020 before rebounding 21-24% in 2021.

Key Products

  • Global demand for many of Atlantic Canada’s key exports, including refined and crude oil, seafood products and tires has fallen due to the impact of COVID-19 and lower commodity prices.
  • Refined oil exports were down 69% ($500 million) in April compared to last year due to the combined impact of a 65% drop in crude oil prices, the shut down of the Come-by-Chance oil refinery at the end of March, and a plunge in demand for gasoline and other refined products.
  • Crude oil exports are down 60% in April largely due to lower prices.  Production in Newfoundland is up 17% in the first four months of the year led by strengthening production at Hebron.
  • Seafood exports declined 35% or $95 million in April. Lobster exports were down 46%, crab was down 65%.  Exports of lobster and crab are seasonally low in April muting the overall negative impact.  Seafood exports are likely to have a much larger negative dollar reduction in May.
  • Several other important exports are also down including tires (63%) and forest products (19%). 
  • While most larger value products were down, a few were less impacted including iron ore (-9%), lumber (-1%), natural gas (+165%) and fruit (+11%).
  • International tourism, transportation, and cruise services to Atlantic Canada will be sharply lower this year. Statistics Canada estimates the export of services was down 23% nationally in April led by declines in travel (52%) and transport services (38%).   Commercial services such as professional and financial services are only down 8%.

Key Markets

  • Exports to the United States were down 51% in April.  The US is opening up again, but demand will take time to recover.
  • Exports to China from Atlantic Canada declined 35% in February over the previous year but were down only 13% in April due to stronger iron ore exports.
  • Several of Atlantic Canada’s other trading partners including Germany, Japan and South Korea have flattened the COVID-19 curve and are reopening their economies.  However, others including the UK and emerging markets like India and Brazil are facing a longer road to recovery. View APEC’s Global COVID-19 page for more details.


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