2023 Wildfires Stunt Canada’s Key Oil, Gas & Timber Exports

Global uncertainty reigns supreme adding to a deteriorating terms of trade position.

Thu 10 Aug 23


Canada’s exports have fallen for a second month, widening its trade deficit from CAD 2.7 billion to CAD 3.7 million in June.

The Conference Board of Canada reports widespread forest fires have significantly impacted Canadian exports.

For June, merchandise imports decreased by 0.5%, whilst exports fell by 2.2%. 

The Conference Board of Canadia is a not-for-profit think tank researching and analysing economic trends, organisational performance and public policy issues.

It has attributed Canada’s worsening trade position to the “worst wildfire season on record,” which has stunted the nation’s net export growth. 

“Wildfires occur each year, but the scale and intensity of the wildfires this year resulted in the worst-ever wildfire season.”

“As a result, the merchandise trade surplus with the US narrowed from USD 7.7 billion in May to USD 7.4 billion in June.”

Canada’s major oil and gas operators cut supply during the wildfire season. Footage courtesy of @france24.

In reaction to the wildfire, major Canadian oil and gas producers suspended operations, causing a significant decrease in oil production. 

According to the Conference Board of Canada, this amounted to over 120,000 daily barrels.

At the same time, the forestry sector shut down sawmills, resulting in delays in producing forest products.

“Considering that Canada is a significant exporter of mineral fuels and forestry products, the wildfires have the potential to impede export growth in the coming months.” 

Forest workers and firefighters travelled from across the globe to help out with the wildfires. Last week Canadian Prime Minister thanked a group from South Korea who helped in Quebec.
The BC Port Strikes cost the Canadian economy CAD 500m per day

Not mentioned in the report was the impact of strike action across 30 British Columbia shipping ports.

The strikes reportedly cost the Canadian economy CAD 500 million per day, with Canadians seeing skyrocketing prices of goods due to disrupted supply routes.

The strike took a heavy toll on the port terminals of Vancouver and Prince Rupert, among the world’s busiest ports for forest products.

CTV News reported that the backlog caused by the strike could take months to clear. Footage courtesy of @CTVNews.

Wood Central reported that forestry products, pulp and logs, constituted 80% of container shipments at Port Metro Vancouver.

For 13 days, the containers were left unattended at the port – causing havoc for Asian pulp suppliers.

Canfor, one of the world’s largest forest companies, has been hit hard by the strike with “a constrained logistics network in British Columbia”, leading to difficulties in supply.

The global economy is losing momentum

Another kind of fire – inflation – is being tamed by monetary policies, creating an economic drag on demand for Canadian goods.

The board notes that the global economy is losing momentum.

“Major central banks worldwide have implemented tightening monetary policies aimed at controlling inflation,” they said.

“Higher borrowing costs have slowly worked their way throughout the global economy, which has softened global demand.”

With 83% of Russia's export market, China drives timber production through Siberia and the Far East. (Photo Credit: Alex Kokcharov Twitter)
Last month, Wood Central reported that Russia’s timber export market has slowed to a crawl as Chinese demand for timber has slowed significantly over the past 12 to 18 months. (Photo Credit: Alex Kokcharov Twitter)

Geopolitical tensions will continue to shape the global economic landscape with additional uncertainty due to rising tensions between the US and China and Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

“Moreover, the BRICS nations (BrazilRussiaIndia and China) are actively seeking to reduce reliance on the US dollar and promote their economic interests by proposing the creation of a new gold-backed currency. Such a move could exacerbate geopolitical divisions.”


  • Wood Central

    Wood Central is Australia’s first and only dedicated platform covering wood-based media across all digital platforms. Our vision is to develop an integrated platform for media, events, education, and products that connect, inform, and inspire the people and organisations who work in and promote forestry, timber, and fibre.


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