Issue 20-1: Exports

January 7, 2020

By Destination

The value of B.C. origin commodity exports fell 6.7% in the first 11 months of 2019, compared to the same period a year earlier. There was a decline in exports to most of B.C.’s major trading partners, including the United States (-4.5%), Mainland China (-1.0%), Japan (‑15.6%), South Korea (-8.6%), the European Union (‑15.5%) and Taiwan (-15.0%). India bucked the overall trend, with exports to that country rising 4.1%.

By Commodity

B.C.’s shipments of agriculture and food products (excluding seafood) climbed 10.2% in the January to November period, compared to the same 11 months in 2018. There has been particularly strong growth in exports of vegetables (+18.0%). Exports of fish and seafood products also increased, albeit at a more modest rate of 1.1%.

Exports of forest products  fell dramatically year-to-date to November. There was a 19.7% decline in shipments of solid wood products,  driven in large part by a 25.8% slump in exports of softwood lumber.  U.S. tariffs and falling demand have been major factors in the drop in lumber shipments. Exports of pulp and paper have also seen  a significant reduction, falling 20.0% year-to-date to November. Pulp (-22.3%), newsprint (-2.2%), other paper and paperboard (-13.2%) and all other pulp and paper products (-10.1%) all experienced a decline in exports.

The value of energy product exports increased 1.1% year-to-date to November. This was despite a 9.9% drop in the value of coal shipments, which comprise around 57% of total energy exports. The value of electricity exports also fell (‑21.0%); however, rising shipments of natural gas (+7.8%) and other energy products (+75.2%) more than offset those declines. In the case of natural gas, the increase was entirely due to higher prices, as quantities exported actually fell 2.3%.

There was a 9.9% drop in shipments of metallic mineral products in the first 11 months of 2019, compared to the January to November period in 2018. The decline was mainly the result of a 42.0% drop in shipments of unwrought aluminum and an 18.7% reduction in exports of unwrought zinc. Shipments of molybdenum ores and concentrates also fell (-7.1%), but exports of copper ores and concentrates (+1.2%), unwrought lead (+1.7%), zinc ores and concentrates (+1835.9%) and all other metallic mineral products (+42.5%) increased. In the case of zinc ores and concentrates, the large percentage increase was due to very low volumes shipped the previous year.

B.C.’s exports of machinery and equipment jumped 6.1% year-to-date to November, with significant boosts in shipments of motor vehicles and parts (+21.0%) and scientific, photographic, measuring equipment, etc. (+14.4%).

There were declines in shipments of fabricated metal products (-5.5%), chemicals and chemical products (-0.3%) and plastics and articles of plastic (-1.9%).

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 1.8% boost in the value of B.C.’s commodity exports in November as strong growth in shipments of metal ores and non-metallic minerals (+12.6%) and metal and non-metallic mineral products (+14.7%) more than offset declines in exports of energy products (-2.4%) and industrial machinery, equipment and parts (-11.6%).

Exports increased both to the United States (+1.5%) as well as the rest of the world (+2.1%). For the U.S., the largest contributor to the increase was a 5.4% rise in shipments of energy products. In contrast, energy shipments to the rest of the world dropped 9.3%. However, increased exports of metal ores and non-metallic minerals (+14.3%) and metal an non-metallic mineral products (+55.2%) offset the drop in energy exports.

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