Issue 16-152: Exports

August 5, 2016

  • B.C. exports dipped 0.2% in the first half of 2016.
  • Solid wood product exports climbed 16.5% in the first half of 2016.
  • Energy product exports fell 16.4% year-to-date to June.

By Destination

The value of B.C. origin exports inched down 0.2% in the first half of 2016, compared to the same six-month period in 2015. Shipments to most major export destinations declined, with the notable exceptions of the United States (+7.9%), India (+34.7%) and the United Kingdom (+2.6%). Exports to the Pacific Rim slumped 8.5%, including drops in shipments to Mainland China (-4.7%), Japan (-13.0%) and South Korea (-10.0%). Despite the increase in shipments to the U.K., exports to the European Union as a whole dropped 7.7%.

By Commodity

B.C. exports of energy products fell 16.4% year-to-date to June, compared to the first six months of 2015. Lower prices played a significant role in the decline. Natural gas shipments dropped 13.0% in value, despite an 11.3% jump in volume exported. Similarly, the value of electricity exports slumped 16.5% even though volumes exported climbed 2.2%. While both values and volumes of coal fell, the drop was much steeper for values (‑21.2%), compared to volumes (-7.4%).

Lower prices have driven down the value of B.C. coal exports substantially

Exports of solid wood products from the province jumped 16.5% in the first half of 2016. With the exception of logs (‑1.4%), all major wood product categories experienced an increase in shipments. Softwood lumber exports rose 15.3% as lumber producers took advantage of a temporary free trade period for softwood lumber exports to the United States. The Softwood Lumber Agreement with the U.S. expired back in October, but under the terms of the agreement, the U.S. cannot launch a trade action until a year after the expiry date.

Elsewhere in the forest sector, there was an 11.5% drop in the value of pulp and paper product shipments. Exports of newsprint were almost reduced by half (-48.8%), while shipments of pulp (-9.3%) and other paper and paperboard (‑11.7%) also fell sharply. However, exports of other pulp and paper products (e.g., products made of paper) grew15.9%.

There was a 4.8% rise in shipments of agriculture and food products over the first six months of 2016, compared to the same period a year earlier. This was despite a substantial 42.7% plunge in exports of vegetable oils. Strong growth in shipments of vegetables (+15.2%) and bread and cereal products (+29.5%) helped mitigate that decline. Fish product exports also experienced a healthy increase, jumping 11.4%.

There was a marginal increase in exports of machinery and equipment (+0.4%), as declines in exports of copper ores and concentrates (-3.0%) and unwrought zinc (-17.8%) offset a more than doubling of shipments of unwrought aluminum (+109.1%). The increase in unwrought aluminum is the result of the refurbished Rio Tinto Alcan aluminum smelter in Kitimat ramping back up to full production.

There was robust growth in shipments of plastics and articles of plastic (+15.8%), but several other major commodity categories saw shipments fall. Metallic mineral product exports dropped (-4.2%), as did fabricated metal product shipments (-3.0%), and chemical and chemical product exports (-2.1%).

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 edged fell 1.5% in June, driven down by significant reductions in shipments of metal ores and non-metallic minerals (-24.5%) and forestry products and building and packaging materials (-2.3%). An 8.2% jump in exports of energy products and an 8.7% rise in shipments of farm, fishing and intermediate food product helped reduce the impact of those declines.

The overall slump was entirely due to a 5.2% drop in shipments to non-U.S. countries as exports to the United States climbed 1.3%. An 11.9% boost in exports of energy products to the U.S. was the largest contributor to the increase in shipments to that country. A 25.8% plunge in exports of metal ores and non-metallic minerals and a 7.5% fall in shipments of forestry products and building and packaging materials drove much of the decline in exports to the rest of the world.

Find more information about British Columbia exports.

Did you know?

India now ranks as the fifth largest destination for B.C. exports. Over $324 million worth of goods have been shipped to India year-to-date to June.