Issue 18-100 Exports

June 6, 2018

By Destination

The value of B.C. origin exports edged up 0.1% in the first four months of 2018, compared to the January to April period a year earlier. This was despite the fact that exports to B.C.’s largest trading partner, the United States, fell 8.2%. Growth in shipments to other major destinations, such as Mainland China (+2.0%), Japan (+2.6%), South Korea (+3.1%), the European Union (+14.4%), and India (+89.5%) more than offset the decline in exports to the United States.

By Commodity

B.C.’s exports of solid wood products fell 11.3% year-to-date to April, compared to the same four-month period in 2017. Shipments of softwood lumber dropped 16.9% due largely to rail transportation issues that have caused substantial backlogs, but U.S. duties imposed on Canadian lumber may have also been partially responsible.

B.C.’s exports to India have increased rapidly in the last couple of years

B.C.’s exports to India have increased rapidly in the last couple of years

Source: Statistics Canada / Prepared by BC Stats

There were also declines in shipments of logs (-1.4%), selected value added woodproducts (-9.8%) and cedar shakes and shingles (‑18.7%). Bucking the overall trend were softwood plywood and veneer (+15.8%), other panel products (+15.5%) and other solid wood products (+1.8%), all of which experienced an increase in exports.

Elsewhere in the forest sector, there was a substantial rise in exports of pulp and paper products (+23.8%), mostly due to a 30.6% jump in shipments of pulp. Newsprint (+7.1%) and other paper and paperboard (+8.6%) also saw an increase in exports, but there was a 22.5% drop in shipments of other pulp and paper products.

The value of energy products declined 10.8% year-to-date to April, compared to the January to April period in 2017. A 34.4% plunge in the value of natural gas shipments was responsible for most of the drop, although exports of electricity (-23.9%) and “other” energy products (-36.8%) also experienced substantial decreases in value. However, exports of coal climbed 4.7% in value. The drop in value of natural gas shipments was entirely due to lower prices as volumes exported actually grew 8.1%.

There was a 16.6% boost in exports of metallic mineral products year-to-date to April. All major metallic mineral product commodity groups saw an increase in shipments, with the exception of unwrought lead (-14.2%). Exports of copper ores and concentrates (+11.9%), unwrought zinc (+26.8%), unwrought aluminum (+10.3%), molybdenum ores and concentrates (+43.9%) and all other metallic mineral products (+266.9%) all had strong growth. It remains to be seen what kind of impact the tariff on imports of aluminum recently imposed by the United States will have on B.C.’s aluminum exports.

Shipments of agriculture and food products rose 3.8% year-to-date to April, while exports of fish products climbed 2.2%. There were also more exports of fabricated metal products (+12.5%) and plastics and articles of plastic (+22.9%), but shipments of chemicals and chemical products dipped 1.2%.

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 dropped 2.1% in April due largely to sharp declines in shipments of metal ores and non-metallic minerals (-25.2%) and energy products (-5.3%). Significant increases in exports of forestry products and building and packaging materials (+6.4%) and metal and non-metallic mineral products (+9.7%) helped mitigate some of the declines elsewhere.

Shipments declined to both the United States (-2.5%) and the rest of the world (-1.7%). Energy products (-8.7%), consumer products (-6.3%) and industrial machinery, equipment and parts (-7.4%) were largely to blame for the drop in exports to the United States.  Metal ores and non-metallic minerals (-27.5%) and energy products (-4.0%) were the primary drivers of the drop in shipments to the rest of the world. A 12.0% jump in exports of forestry products and building and packaging materials helped offset some of the reductions elsewhere.

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