British Columbia’s exports in the first quarter of 2020 fell by almost -15% when compared to the first quarter of 2019. The result of the rail blockade protests earlier in the year and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. One of the hardest hit sectors was the lumber industry. Year to date logs exports have declined nearly -75%, while softwood lumber exports dropped -20.1% and softwood plywood/veneer shipments fell -15.7%. Gains were made, however, in value-added +7.1% and other solid-wood product exports +8.8%. The solid-wood declines, however, were not limited to exports to the U.S. Exports to China year-to date have declined -51.6% and to Japan -33.6%.


According to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) monthly Starts and Completion Survey (SCS) for May 2020, which was conducted in each province, except for Quebec, where construction did not resume until April 20th, the trend in housing starts was 196,750 units in May 2020, down from 198,644 units in April 2020. Excluding Quebec, the trend was 151,072 units in May 2020, down from 155,600 units in April 2020. This trend measure is a six-month moving average of the monthly seasonally adjusted annual rates (SAAR) of housing starts. Bob Dugan, chief economist for the CMHC said “Outside of Quebec, the national trend in housing starts decreased in May. Higher multi-family starts in Ontario and the Atlantic provinces were offset by declines in British Columbia and the Prairies. We expect national starts to continue to register declines in the near term, reflecting the impact of COVID-19 measures.”


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