Impacts of the U.S. government shutdown

January 3, 2019

Under the terms of an agreement between Canada and the United States that came into effect in 1990, each country uses the other's import data to produce its export statistics. For example, U.S. imports from Canada reported to U.S. Customs and Border Protection are compiled by the United States Census Bureau (USCB) and transmitted to Statistics Canada to be used as statistics for Canada's exports to the United States.

On December 22, 2018, a partial shutdown of the U.S. federal government came into effect, resulting in the indefinite closure of the United States Census Bureau. For the duration of the shutdown, Statistics Canada will not receive data for Canada's exports to the United States.

Data for the upcoming release on January 8th, 2019 (November 2018 reference month) will be unaffected by the current disruption, as a complete set of records was received from the USCB prior to the government shutdown.

A prolonged shutdown, however, could impede Statistics Canada's ability to release a complete picture of Canadian international merchandise trade statistics for the December 2018 reference period, scheduled to be published on February 5, 2019. No U.S. data for the December reference month were transmitted to Statistics Canada prior to the shutdown.

The United States is Canada's most important trading partner, with about 75% of Canada's total international merchandise exports destined for the U.S.. Canada is also the top export destination for U.S. goods, accounting for about 18% of total U.S. merchandise exports. Under normal circumstances, both Statistics Canada and the United States Census Bureau publish statistics for international trade in goods simultaneously at 8:30 AM eastern time on predetermined release dates. The sharing of import data, which is generally preferred because of the greater scrutiny import shipments are subject to by customs agencies, helps to ensure accurate and coherent bilateral trade statistics, while reducing the administrative burden on exporting companies.

Statistics Canada is closely monitoring the present situation and is preparing for various scenarios to minimize the impact of this event for its users. Further information will be provided as it becomes available.

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