Issue 17-68: Exports

April 4, 2017

By Destination

Year-to-date to February, the value of B.C. origin exports jumped 15.8%, compared to the same two-month period in 2016. There was fairly robust growth in shipments to B.C.’s largest trading partner, the United States (+13.3%), while exports expanded even more rapidly to destinations such as the European Union (+59.8%), Japan (+25.3%), South Korea (+61.5%) and Taiwan (+93.4%). On the flip side, there were also some substantial declines, such as Mainland China ( 9.2%), Hong Kong (-15.3%), India (-59.2%) and Australia (-14.2%).

By Commodity

The value of energy product exports from B.C. almost doubled (+98.3%) in the first two months of February, compared to the same period a year earlier. Substantially higher prices for coal drove much of the increase, as the value of coal shipments climbed 110.8%, despite the fact that volumes of coal shipped fell 24.5%. However, there was also strong growth in exports of natural gas (+96.0%), electricity (+47.0%) and other energy products (+85.7%). While prices also played a part in the increase in value of gas and electricity exports, it was to a much smaller extent, as volumes shipped increased as well.

B.C.’s exports of solid wood products slipped 1.1% over the first two months of 2017, compared to the January to February period of 2016. [1] Exports of all major wood categories fell, with the exception of logs, which increased 26.3%. Softwood lumber, which comprises the bulk of solid wood exports, saw shipments drop 2.2%.

Elsewhere in the forest sector, pulp and paper product shipments also declined, dipping 2.3%. A 1.5% drop in exports of pulp and a 26.1% slump in shipments of newsprint were responsible for the overall drop in pulp and paper exports.

B.C.`s exports of metallic mineral products increased 6.0% year-to-date to February, compared to the same two-month period in 2016, despite a 17.9% plunge in exports of copper ores and concentrates. All other major metallic mineral product categories experienced growth in shipments, including unwrought zinc (+39.0%), unwrought aluminum (+40.0%), unwrought lead (+22.4%), molybdenum ores and concentrates (+418.0%) and other metallic mineral products (+51.4%).

B.C.`s exports of machinery and equipment fell 8.3% over the first two months of 2017, compared to the same period a year earlier. [2] There was a 12.8% decline in shipments of motor vehicles and parts, a 7.7% drop in exports of electrical, electronic and communications equipment, a 3.1% decrease in shipments of scientific, photographic, measuring equipment, etc., a 1.2% dip in exports of aircraft and parts and a 9.8% contraction in shipments of other machinery and equipment.

Exports of agricultural and food products expanded 29.0% year-to-date to February, while shipments of fish products climbed 3.3%. There was also an increase in exports of fabricated metal products (+5.5%); however, there were declines in shipments of chemicals and chemical products (-7.0%) and plastics and articles of plastic (-19.8%).

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.

There was a substantial 14.8% drop in the value of B.C.’s commodity exports in February, driven largely by a 30.7% decline in energy product shipments. There were also significant decreases in exports of forestry products and building and packaging materials (-8.3%), farm, fishing and intermediate food products (-23.1%) and metal and non-metallic mineral products (-11.0%). In fact, with the exception of metal ores and non-metallic minerals (+1.5%), all major commodity categories experienced a decline in exports.

Shipments fell to both the United States (-9.8%) and the rest of the world (-20.6%). A 13.7% drop in forestry products and building and packaging materials, plus an 8.9% slump in energy products were the primary contributors to the decreased exports to the U.S., although again, almost all categories experienced reductions. A 46.9% plunge in exports of energy products was the main reason for the fall in shipments 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.