Issue 16-19: Exports

February 1, 2016

  • B.C. exports edged up 0.3% in 2015, compared to 2014.
  • Shipments of machinery and equipment climbed 17.6% in 2015.
  • Energy product exports fell 25.4% in 2015, largely driven by lower prices.

By Destination

There was very little growth in the value of B.C. origin exports in 2015, with only a 0.3% increase over the value recorded in 2014. Although shipments to the United States – B.C.’s largest destination for exports – increased by 3.8%, exports to several other key destinations fell, including Mainland China (-5.7%), Japan (-0.7%), South Korea (-11.7%), the European Union (- 6.0%) and Hong Kong (-5.3%). Taiwan (+4.2%) and India (+5.6%) both increased their imports of B.C. products, bucking the overall negative trend in shipments to Asian destinations. A particularly bright spot for B.C. exports was Mexico, which saw a 64.8% jump in shipments.

By Commodity

The value of energy product exports plunged 25.4%, which was the main reason for the overall constrained growth in exports. A drop in prices for key energy commodities drove much of the decline in value of energy product exports. This was particularly true for natural gas, exports of which fell 44.8% in value from 2014 to 2015, but were reduced only 5.1% in volume. Similarly, the value of coal shipments decreased 15.6%, but volumes shipped declined at a slower rate, albeit still a fairly large drop of 8.2%. Unlike coal and natural gas, exports of electricity increased in value, with growth of 28.0% in 2015; however, reduced prices kept that figure lower than it could have been, as the quantity of electricity transmitted across the border climbed 68.3%. The value of exports of other energy products fell 31.3%, with lower prices for crude oil likely playing a significant role in the decline.

Reduced shipments of energy products have dampened B.C.'s overall growth 

Forest sector exports experienced relatively strong growth in 2015. Shipments of solid wood products climbed 4.7%, compared to a year earlier and pulp and paper product exports grew 2.3%. Although exports of softwood lumber had modest growth of 2.5% and shipments of logs fell 15.2%, most other major wood products experienced double-digit growth in exports. Selected value-added wood products (+32.7%), softwood plywood and veneer (+36.0%), other panel products (+18.7%) and cedar shakes and shingles (+23.2%) all saw robust export growth.

With respect to pulp and paper product shipments, most of the growth was due to a 5.7% boost in exports of pulp. Shipments of newsprint fell 22.8%, likely a reflection of falling demand as newspapers move toward more of an online presence. Other paper and paperboard products also saw a drop in shipments (-6.2%), but other pulp and paper product exports (e.g., cardboard boxes, paper towels, etc.) grew 28.7%.

B.C.’s exports of metallic mineral products dropped 2.9% in 2015, despite a 2.5% rise in shipments of copper ores and concentrates, which comprise about two-thirds of B.C.’s total metallic mineral product shipments. Exports of unwrought zinc (+20.2%) and unwrought lead (+5.7%) also increased, but double-digit declines for shipments of unwrought aluminum (-26.3%), molybdenum ores and concentrates (-76.3%), zinc ores and concentrates (-56.1%) and other metallic mineral products (-36.0%) drove down overall metallic mineral product exports.

There were large increases in exports of agriculture and food products (+20.6%) and fish (+14.9%) in 2015. In the manufacturing sector, machinery and equipment (+17.6%), chemicals and chemical products (+12.7%) and plastics and articles of plastic (+11.9%) all had robust growth in shipments.

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 fell 3.0% in December, driven down by substantial declines in shipments of metal ores and non-metallic minerals (-27.4%), energy products (-11.7%) and industrial machinery, equipment and parts (-9.9%). However, there was strong growth in exports of farm, fishing and intermediate food products (+38.5%).

Shipments fell to both the United States (-3.4%) and the rest of the world (-2.5%) in December. For the U.S., most of the drop was due to a 19.9% slump in exports of energy products and a 7.9% decline in shipments of metal and non-metal mineral products. Energy products (-5.7%) also played a role in the reduction in exports to the rest of the world, but a 27.5% decrease in shipments of metal ores and non-metallic minerals was the main driver of the overall decline. Substantial growth in exports of farm, fishing and intermediate food products (+111.2%) to the rest of the world helped offset some of the drops for other commodities, as did a 5.5% rise in shipments of forestry products and building and packaging materials.

More information about British Columbia exports is available.

Did you know?

Over $1 billion was collected in duties from goods imported into Canada through B.C. customs ports in 2015, up from just over $863 million in 2014.