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The COVID-19 Pandemic: Anticipating its Effects on Canada's Agricultural Trade

COVID-19 Research Area(s): Economics & Business, Food & Nutrition

Canada’s agricultural and food exports can be expected to take a substantial hit in 2020, despite being insulated by relatively low income elasticities of demand for our cereal products. This will be due to the worldwide scope of the worst recession in 100 years, and the unfortunate likelihood of trade and logistical policy restrictions that have come with the world’s pandemic response.


With the deep recession now forecast for the world economy, trade can be expected to fall even more steeply. Agricultural trade will be less significantly affected, being insulated by its relatively low income elasticities of demand. However, a drop in the range of 12 to 20 percent in real trade value should be expected. Canada can be expected to share in this, but, within agricultural exports, cereals will be least affected. This minimal expected impact to cereals stems from the risk of wheat export bans by Russia and Kazakhstan, due to the resulting increase in wheat prices. Livestock, pulses, and horticulture can be expected to face a larger decline in trade prospects and revenues. An equally large threat to falling incomes in our trade partners is their policy responses, particularly the potential increase in import restrictions. These may take the form of more costly inspections, tightened SPS and food safety regulations, and protectionist measures from competing domestic producers.