Issue 17-164: Exports

December 5, 2017

By Destination

The value of B.C. origin exports jumped 15.1% in the first ten months of 2017, compared to the January to October period a year earlier. There was growth to most major destinations, including B.C.’s two largest export markets, the United States (+7.2%) and Mainland China (+10.9%). There was also double-digit growth to Japan (+27.4%), South Korea (+50.5%), the European Union (+36.5%), India (+49.2%), Taiwan (+25.3) and Hong Kong (+12.3%).

By Commodity

B.C.’s exports of metallic mineral products expanded 12.6% year-to-date to October, compared to the same ten-month period in 2016, despite a 1.1% drop in shipments of copper ores and concentrates, which comprise over half of the province’s metallic mineral product shipments. Strong growth in exports of unwrought aluminum (+29.9%), unwrought zinc (+26.8%), molybdenum ores and concentrates (+243.2%), unwrought lead (+9.7%) and other metallic mineral products (+86.4%) more than offset the decline in copper ores and concentrates.

B.C.’s exports of unwrought aluminum have skyrocketed since the completion of the Rio Tinto Alcan aluminum smelter expansion in Kitimat

This is a graph showing how B.C.’s exports of unwrought aluminum have skyrocketed since the completion of the Rio Tinto

The value of energy product exports soared 69.5% year-to-date to October, with double-digit increases in the value of shipments of coal (+89.4%), natural gas (+67.9%), electricity (+39.6%) and other energy products (+14.3%). For coal, higher prices were responsible for the entire increase, as volumes shipped actually dipped 0.3%. Prices also played a role in the magnitude of the change for both natural gas and electricity, but to a much lesser extent. The quantity of natural gas exported grew by 47.5%, while the volume of electricity exported climbed 12.3%.

There was a 3.7% decline in shipments of solid wood products over the January to October period of 2017, compared to the same ten months in 2016. Exports of softwood lumber fell 5.6%, likely due to the impact of the forest fires that swept through the province in the summer, although it is possible that uncertainty arising from duties imposed by the United States may also have played a role. Shipments of selected value added wood products (-6.8%), cedar shakes and shingles (-8.7%), softwood plywood and veneer (-0.7%) and “other” solid wood products (-5.6%) also fell; however, exports of logs (+10.2%) and other panel products (+5.9%) increased.[1]

Shipments of pulp and paper products climbed 10.1% year-to-date to October, with strong growth in exports of pulp (+12.4%) and newsprint (+6.3%). Shipments of other paper and paperboard dipped 0.4%, but other pulp and paper product exports expanded 10.5%.

There was a 15.9% rise in exports of agriculture and food products, led by a 41.9% jump in shipments of vegetables. Fish product shipments dipped 1.1%, due mainly to declines in exports of salmon products.

Exports of machinery and equipment rose 2.4% year-to-date to October, while shipments of fabricated metal products jumped 14.8%.[2] However, there were declines in exports of chemicals and chemical products (-2.0%) and plastics and articles of plastic (-4.8%).

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 dipped 0.7% in October, largely due to a 9.2% slump in shipments of energy products. There were also significant declines in exports of electronic and electrical equipment and parts (-17.0%), farm, fishing and intermediate food products (-8.6%) and metal and non-metallic mineral products (-3.3%). These large drops more than offset a substantial jump in shipments of forestry products and building and packaging materials (+6.8%) and robust growth in exports of metal ores and non-metallic minerals (+7.5%) and chemical, plastic and rubber products (+31.7%).

Shipments to the United States climbed 1.7%, while exports to the rest of the world fell 3.1%. An 11.0% rise in shipments of forestry products and building and packaging materials drove most of the increase in exports to the U.S., while a 12.9% decline in shipments of energy products was the main factor behind the drop in exports to the rest of the world.

Visit the exports and imports page on the BC Stats website.



[1] Note that due to revisions to the commodity codes, there may be a small data break in the selected value-added wood products category, which also affects the total of solid wood products. Growth rates may be slightly understated.

[2] Note that due to revisions to the commodity codes, there may be a data break in the machinery and equipment commodity grouping. Growth rates may be overstated.