US government shutdown muddles Canada trade tallies

January 18, 2019
A partial Washington shutdown started on December 22, 2018, which included the closure of the US Census Bureau, has halted the sharing of economic data with Canada/AFP-File

, OTTAWA, Canada, Jan 17 – The Canadian statistical agency said Thursday the US government shutdown is having impacts beyond its borders, stemming data sharing and forcing Ottawa to suspend publication of trade figures.

The United States is Canada’s largest trading partner, with about 75 percent of Canadian exports sent to its southern neighbor.

Statistics Canada and the US Census Bureau (USCB) share economic data collected by the two nations’ respective customs agencies to produce trade reports.

But a partial Washington shutdown started on December 22, which included the closure of the USCB, has halted US data collection and sharing.

“This has a direct impact on Statistics Canada’s ability to compile, produce and publish Canadian international merchandise trade data, as Statistics Canada will not receive data on Canada’s exports to the United States for the duration of the shutdown,” the agency said in a statement.

The nations trade about Can$2 billion (US$1.5 billion) worth of goods each day.

Statistics Canada has suspended trade reporting from December 2018 onward, until US government workers return to work. The next release of monthly trade figures, for December, had been scheduled for February 5.

As the US shutdown moves toward a fifth week, there is no sign of a breakthrough in the impasse between President Donald Trump and congressional Democrats over Trump’s demand for US$5.7 billion to build a border wall with Mexico, which he argues is needed to prevent illegal migration.

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