Issue 17-05: Exports

January 6, 2017

  • B.C. exports rose 7.7% year-to-date to November.
  • Softwood lumber exports climbed 19.9% over the first 11 months of 2016.
  • Energy product exports jumped 16.2% year-to-date to November 2016.

By Destination

The value of B.C. origin commodity exports jumped 7.7% in the first eleven months of 2016, compared to the same period a year earlier. There was a substantial 11.6% rise in shipments to the United States and there were also increases in exports to several other major destinations, including Mainland China (+1.7%), Japan (+2.4%), South Korea (+8.9%), the European Union (+10.9%), India (+12.4%) and Taiwan (+2.0%).

There was exceptional growth in shipments in November (a 26.3% surge over November 2015), which boosted year-to-date growth for most destination countries and reversed declines for countries such as Mainland China, Japan and Taiwan, for which exports had previously been tracking lower than in 2015.

The value of B.C.'s exports spiked in November 

By Commodity

The value of B.C.’s solid wood product exports climbed 19.8% over January to November 2016, compared to the same 11-month period in 2015. There was strong growth across all major wood categories, including a 19.9% boost in shipments of softwood lumber. Elsewhere in the forest sector, pulp and paper exports continue to lag their 2015 values, with shipments falling 9.6% year-to-date to November 2016. Exports of pulp (-8.4%), newsprint (-39.2%) and other paper and paperboard (-9.2%) all declined, although shipments of other pulp and paper products grew 12.8%.

Exports of energy products jumped 16.2% year-to-date to November 2016, despite a 9.8% drop in the value of electricity transmitted across the border. The drop in value of electricity exports was due entirely to a drop in price, as the volume of electricity exported rose 1.4%. Natural gas (+22.4%), coal (+20.1%) and other energy products (+6.7%) all experienced growth in shipments. For coal, higher prices drove much of the increase, as the quantity shipped climbed only 1.8%.

There was an 8.7% increase in shipments of metallic mineral products over the first 11 months of 2016, compared to the same period in 2015. Most of this increase was due to a 373.0% surge in exports of unwrought aluminum as a result of the revamped Rio Tinto Alcan aluminum smelter in Kitimat ramping up to full production. However, there was also a boost in shipments of unwrought lead (+26.4%) and unwrought zinc (+1.1%). Copper ores and concentrates, which comprise over half of all B.C.’s metallic mineral product exports, saw an 8.5% decline in shipments.

B.C.’s exports of agriculture and food products grew 5.7% year-to-date to November 2016, while shipments of fish products climbed 16.1%. Exports of machinery and equipment were fairly flat, edging up only 0.2%. There was strong growth in exports of plastics and articles of plastic (+8.9%), but shipments of chemicals and chemical products (-6.7%), fabricated metal products (-2.9%) and apparel and accessories (-15.4%) all 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 jumped 10.4% in November, driven by a 28.0% boost in shipments of energy products. There was also strong growth in exports of forestry products and building and packaging materials (+4.7%) and metal ores and non-metallic minerals (+22.2%).

Shipments increased to the United States (+3.1%), but it was an 18.9% surge in shipments to the rest of the world that drove much of the overall increase. Growth in exports to the United States was spread across most commodity groups, while the rise in shipments to the rest of the world was driven largely by a 46.1% jump in exports of energy products, as well as strong increases in shipments of forestry products and building and packaging materials (+9.4%) and metal ores and non-metallic minerals (+21.6%).

Did You Know?

The modernization of the Rio Tinto Alcan aluminum smelter in Kitimat has boosted production capacity by approximately 48 percent. As a result, with one month of data still to be reported, the volume of unwrought aluminum exported from B.C. in 2016 is already at the highest level it has ever been. Year-to-date to November 2016, B.C. shipped 360 million kilograms of unwrought aluminum to international destinations. The previous high (for an entire year) was just under 278 million kilograms in 1990.