Issue 18-26: Exports

February 6, 2018

  • B.C. exports  climbed 13.0% in value from 2016 to 2017
  • Lumber exports dipped 0.7% in 2017
  • Energy product exports jumped 45.4% in value from 2016 to 2017

By Destination

There was a 13.0% jump in the value of B.C.’s commodity exports in 2017. There was strong growth to most major destinations, including B.C.’s largest trading partners, the United States (+7.0%) and Mainland China (+12.3%). Other large increases include Japan (+20.3%), South Korea (+34.2%), the European Union (+28.2%), India (+31.1%) and Taiwan (+12.1%). Exports to NAFTA partner Mexico exploded 164.8% in 2017, vaulting that country ahead of Hong Kong to become a significant destination for B.C. exports.

By Commodity

The value of B.C.’s energy product exports climbed 45.4% from 2016 to 2017. Higher commodity prices had a significant impact on the increase. For example, although the value of coal exports jumped 55.5%, the increase in volume of coal shipped rose only 6.6%. Similarly, the value of electricity exported increased 21.7%, but the volume transmitted across the border edged up only 0.6%. However, there was a substantial increase in both value (+44.4%) and volume (+39.4%) of natural gas shipments.

From 2016 to 2017, there was a marginal 0.3% dip in B.C.’s international shipments of solid wood products. Softwood lumber, which makes up over two-thirds of the value of total solid wood exports, experienced a 0.7% drop in shipments. There were also decreases in exports of cedar shakes and shingles (-7.5%), selected value added wood products (-6.3%) and “other” solid wood products (-6.0%).[1] These declines were largely offset by increased shipments of softwood plywood and veneer (+5.2%), other panel products (+7.2%) and logs (+4.5%).

B.C.’s exports to Japan have experienced strong growth in 2017 and could see a further boost with the recently signed Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement

B.C.'s exports to Japan experience strong growth in 2017

Source: Statistics Canada / Prepared by BC Stats

Elsewhere in the forest sector, there was a significant rise in the value of pulp and paper exports from the province (+12.4%). The increase was largely driven by a 15.6% boost in shipments of pulp; however, exports of newsprint (+5.4%) and “other” pulp and paper products (+6.1%) also increased, while shipments of other paper and paperboard (excluding newsprint) were virtually unchanged from a year earlier.

There was a 10.6% jump in B.C.’s exports of metallic mineral products in 2017, despite the fact that shipments of copper ores and concentrates, which comprise around half the overall value of metallic mineral product exports, fell 3.3%. Robust increases in shipments of unwrought aluminum (+29.0%), unwrought zinc (+23.7%), unwrought lead (+4.1%), molybdenum ores and concentrates (+136.3%) and other metallic mineral products (+127.0%) more than offset the decline in copper ores and concentrates.

There were strong increases in shipments of fabricated metal products (+15.0%), machinery and equipment (+2.1%) and agriculture and food products (+16.1%) in 2017.[2] However, exports of fish products (-2.9%), chemicals and chemical products (-3.0%) and plastics and articles of plastic (-3.4%) all fell.

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 2.7% rise in the value of B.C.’s commodity exports in December as strong growth in shipments of energy products (+7.4%), metal and non-metallic mineral products (+13.7%) and metal ores and non-metallic minerals (+10.9%) more than offset significant declines in exports of forestry products and building and packaging materials (‑2.9%) and farm, fishing and intermediate food products (-7.9%).

Exports increased to both the United States (+1.0%) and the rest of the world (+4.5%). The rise in exports to the U.S. was largely driven by a 15.8% jump in shipments of metal and non-metallic mineral products (+15.8%) and energy products (+4.2%). Energy products also had a significant role in the expansion in exports to the rest of the world, with a 9.7% jump in December. There was also a big jump in shipments of metal ores and non-metallic minerals (+10.8%) to the rest of the world.

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

Did You Know?

Canada has reached agreement with 10 other countries to form the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership. The other countries involved in the comprehensive trade deal are Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. In 2017, approximately 5% of Canada’s exports were destined for these countries; however, almost 13% of B.C.’s goods were shipped to these markets.


[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.