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Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade appearance before the Special Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic


Personal protection equipment (PPE) procurement from China and Canada-China trade relations


GAC continues to support procurement of medical supplies from China. Trade with China has been decreasing in 2020 due to COVID-19 but this decline is unrelated to failures in some procured PPE.

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Releasable Background

PPE Procurement:

In addition to efforts to increase Canada's domestic capacity to manufacture medical supplies and personal protection equipment to combat COVID-19, the Government of Canada continues to source medical supplies internationally to meet the immediate needs of Canadians. Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) is procuring medical supplies globally for the Government of Canada and is working closely with the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and Health Canada to ensure these purchase meet Canadian standards and requirements. Global Affairs Canada continues to work with PSPC and partners to identify and help resolve any international obstacles to Canada's required procurement.


Jan-Mar 2020 year-on-year data indicates a 18.2% decrease of overall Canada-China bilateral merchandise trade, with exports to China falling by 13.8% to $5.0B, and imports from China falling by 19.5% to $14.5B. COVID-19 is at least partially to blame for the decrease as Canadian exports are impacted by the demand and supply chain disruptions, but the impact has been uneven.

The top 5 exporting Canadian provinces experienced a decline in exports to China during this period: British Columbia's exports value fell by 24.6% to $1,307.5M; Alberta by 14.5% to $959.8M; Saskatchewan by 4.8% to $837.1M; Quebec by 4.1% to $786.0M; and Ontario by 25.2% to $520.4M. However, Newfoundland's exports to China increased by 75.3% due to $76.4M increase of iron ore exports, while Manitoba's exports to China increased by 29.6% due to a $85.1M increase in pork exports.

From Jan-Mar 2020, Canadian pork and pork product exports to China totaled $442.0M, an increase of 105.5% from a year earlier. Beef exports declined by 45.6% to $26.0M in the same period. Pharmaceutical product exports increased by 144.1%, reaching $52.4M, motor vehicles declined by 53.6 % to $161.8M, and wood exports declined by 54.1% to $184.5M. Canola seeds exports declined by 15.9%. Soybean exports increased to $17.6M.

Chinese tourists visiting Canada decreased by 23.2% in Jan-Feb 2020. On education, the number of study permits issued to Chinese citizens reduced by 53.4% compared to 2019.

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