Issue 18-81 Exports

May 3, 2018

  • B.C. exports inched up 0.2% in the first quarter of 2018, compared to 2017.
  • Softwood lumber exports fell 17.8% in the first quarter, compared to 2017.
  • Energy product exports dropped 10.0% in the first quarter of 2018.

By Destination

B.C. origin exports edged up 0.2% in the first quarter of 2018, compared to the same three-month period a year earlier. Shipments to B.C.’s largest export market, the United States, fell 9.1%, but there was growth in most other major markets, which offset the drop in exports to the United States. Shipments expanded to each of Mainland China (+2.4%), Japan (+12.0%), South Korea (+6.3%), the European Union (+2.6%), India (+87.2%) and Taiwan (+22.8%).

By Commodity

There was a 12.4% drop in exports of solid wood products in the first quarter of 2018, compared to the same period in 2017. Softwood lumber, which comprises about two-thirds of B.C.’s solid wood exports, was responsible for most of the decline, with shipments falling 17.8%. While duties charged on exports to the United States may have played a small role in the slump, transportation issues resulting from poor weather were the main driver of the decrease. The weather problems have created backlogs and there is a shortage of railcars created by the surge in demand not only from lumber, but also other goods, including grain.

Exports of softwood lumber from British Columbia to the United States have fallen sharply in 2018

Exports of softwood lumber from British Columbia to the United States have fallen sharply in 2018

Source: Statistics Canada / Prepared by BC Stats

 

In addition to softwood lumber, there were also declines in exports of cedar shakes and shingles (-19.5%), selected value added wood products (-8.1%) and logs (-6.9%). Growth in shipments of softwood plywood and veneer (+13.8%), other panel products (+12.1%) and other solid wood products (+1.4%) helped offset some of the declines elsewhere.

In contrast to solid wood products, exports of pulp and paper products experienced robust growth in the first quarter, rising 20.2%, compared to the first three months of 2017. A 25.9% jump in shipments of pulp was the main contributor to the overall increase, but exports of newsprint (+12.5%) and other paper and paperboard (+6.3%) were also higher. Shipments of other pulp and paper products (e.g., waste and scrap, cardboard containers, and sacks and bags) bucked the overall trend, falling 22.3%.

The value of B.C.’s exports of energy products fell 10.0% in the first quarter, relative to the same period in 2017, despite the fact that exports of coal, which make up around 70 percent of B.C.’s energy exports, increased 7.8% in value. A 39.1% plunge in the value of shipments of natural gas was the main factor in the overall drop, although there were also substantial decreases in the value of exports of electricity (-31.3%) and other energy products (-25.1%). For natural gas, the slump in exports was entirely due to lower prices for the product, as the volume of gas shipped climbed 7.1%.

B.C.’s exports of metallic mineral products jumped 23.3% in the first quarter with most commodity groups experiencing an increase. There were substantial increases in shipments of copper ores and concentrates (+24.4%), unwrought zinc (+24.6%), unwrought aluminum (+18.0%), molybdenum ores and concentrates (+37.4%) and “other” metallic mineral products (+200.1%). Unwrought lead went against the overall trend with exports of that product falling 16.8%.

Shipments of agriculture and food increased 2.3% in the first quarter, while fish product exports dipped 1.3%. There was a 3.5% rise in exports of machinery and equipment and shipments of fabricated metal products expanded 13.0%. There was a marginal increase in exports of chemicals and chemical products (+0.6%), while shipments of plastics and articles of plastic jumped 16.0%.

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 4.0% rise in the value of B.C.’s commodity exports from February to March. The main contributors to the overall increase were a 25.1% jump in shipments of metal ores and non-metallic minerals and a 4.7% increase in exports of forestry products and building and packaging materials. The overall growth was moderated somewhat by declines in shipments of specific goods, particularly a 6.7% drop in exports of metal and non-metallic mineral products and a 1.5% dip in shipments of energy products.

Exports increased to both the United States (+7.2%) and the rest of the world (+1.2%). A 15.0% boost in shipments of forestry products and building and packaging materials was responsible for the bulk of the rise in exports to the U.S., more than offsetting a 12.1% drop in shipments of energy products.

A 22.3% jump in exports of metal ores and non-metallic minerals to non-U.S. destinations helped offset declines in shipments of metal and non-metallic mineral products (-29.3%) and forestry products and building and packaging materials (-4.0%).

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