Issue 16-107: Exports

June 3, 2016

  • B.C. exports climbed 1.0% in value year-to-date to April.
  • B.C.’s wood product exports jumped 14.7% over the first four months of 2016.
  • The value of energy product exports fell 16.0% year-to-date to April.

By Destination

Over the first four months of 2016, the value of B.C. origin exports rose 1.0% compared to January to April 2015. Most of the growth was due to an 8.9% jump in shipments to the United States, as exports to most other major destinations fell. Mainland China (-3.1%), Japan (-11.0%), South Korea (‑14.2%), the European Union (-8.3%), Taiwan (-22.2%) and Hong Kong (‑15.2%) all reduced their imports of B.C. products. In addition, exports to Mexico plunged 72.7%. Other than the U.S., the one other bright spot was exports to India, which expanded 35.5%.

B.C.’s exports to the U.S. have been trending up, but shipments to the rest of the world are falling

By Commodity

Year-to-date to April, exports of solid wood products increased 14.7%, compared to the same four-month period a year earlier. All major wood categories saw double-digit growth in shipments, with the exception of logs, which experienced an 11.4% drop.

Elsewhere in the forest sector, pulp and paper product shipments slumped 9.2%. There was a drop in exports of pulp (-5.6%), newsprint (-45.0%) and other paper and paperboard (-15.7%); however, shipments of other pulp and paper products (e.g., products made of paper) climbed 15.7%.

Exports of metallic mineral products fell 3.2% year-to-date to April, due to significant declines in shipments of unwrought zinc (-15.5%), molybdenum ores and concentrates (-80.2%), “other” metallic mineral products (-67.9%) and an absence of shipments of zinc ores and concentrates (-100.0%). A 3.6% increase in exports of copper ores and concentrates (which comprise around two-thirds of B.C.’s metallic mineral product shipments) and strong growth in shipments of unwrought aluminum (+54.3%) and unwrought lead (+23.1%) helped mitigate the declines in exports of other metallic mineral products. The increase in unwrought aluminum is the result of the refurbished Rio Tinto Alcan aluminum smelter in Kitimat ramping back up to full production.

The value of B.C.’s exports of energy products dropped 16.0% over the first four months of 2016, compared to the same January to April period a year earlier. Much of the decline was the result of lower prices for coal. The value of coal shipments fell 22.9%, but volumes of coal exported slipped only 2.3%. There was also a drop in the value of exports of electricity (-8.3%) and “other” energy products (-25.8%); however, natural gas bucked the overall trend with shipments rising 1.6%, although lower prices restrained the increase, as volumes of gas shipped climbed 10.8%.

Exports of machinery and equipment increased 5.1% year-to-date, as robust growth in shipments of motors vehicles and parts (+69.4%) and scientific, photographic and measuring equipment (+11.3%) offset a 20.9% drop in exports of aircraft and parts.

There was strong growth in shipments of agricultural and food products (+10.7%), fish (+9.6%) and plastics and articles of plastic (+21.8%) over the first four months of 2016. However, exports of chemicals and chemical products (‑4.4%) and fabricated metal products (-1.0%) fell.

Seasonally Adjusted Exports

Seasonal adjustment provides a means of making month-to-month comparisons by removing the periodic seasonal fluctuations that occur. Variations from normal seasonal patterns are revealed in the seasonally adjusted series.

The value of B.C.’s commodity exports inched down 0.9% in April, mostly due to a 3.8% drop in shipments of forestry products and building and packaging materials, and a 5.1% fall in exports of energy products. An 18.3% jump in shipments of metal ores and non-metallic minerals helped offset some of the declines elsewhere.

Exports to the United States were virtually unchanged, while shipments to the rest of the world fell 2.0%. For the U.S., large declines in exports of energy products (-2.5%) and metal and non-metallic mineral products (-3.8%) were offset by big increases in shipments of chemical, plastic and rubber products (+13.0%) and farm, fishing and intermediate food products (+5.5%). For the rest of the world, an 18.7% jump in exports of metal ores and non-metallic minerals was wiped out by large declines in shipments of forestry products and building and packaging materials (-8.6%), energy products (-7.5%) and chemical, plastic and rubber products (-38.7%).

More information about British Columbia exports is available.

Did you know?

If shipments to the United States are excluded, the value of B.C. origin exports dropped 7.1% year-to-date to April compared to the same period in 2015.