Issue 20-126: Exports

July 2, 2020

By Destination

The value of B.C. origin exports fell 15.0% through the first five months of 2020, compared to the same period a year earlier. Exports were down to most major destinations, including the United States (-9.4%), Mainland China (-12.9%), Japan (-4.9%), South Korea (‑29.2%), the European Union (-45.0%), India (-48.3%), Taiwan (-15.3%) and the United Kingdom (-11.8%).

By Commodity

B.C.’s exports of solid wood products dropped 20.7% in the January to May period of 2020, compared to the same five months in 2019. There were substantial declines in shipments of softwood lumber (-20.3%), softwood plywood and veneer (-18.5%), other panel products (-25.8%), logs (-64.1%) and cedar shakes and shingles (-11.4%). However, there was growth in exports of value-added wood products (+5.6%) and other solid wood products (+5.2%).

Elsewhere in the forest sector, shipments of pulp and  paper products decreased 25.0% year-to-date to May. Pulp shipments fell 22.3%, newsprint exports plunged 61.8% and shipments of other paper and paperboard declined 34.2%. There was a marginal rise of 0.3% in exports of all other pulp and paper products.

Shipments of metallic mineral products declined 11.1% year-to-date to May with substantial drops in exports of unwrought aluminum (-49.9%), unwrought zinc (-22.6%) and molybdenum ores and concentrates (-47.9%). On the other hand, there was growth in shipments of copper ores and concentrates (+8.4%), unwrought lead (+2.6%), zinc ores and concentrates (+10.8%) and all other metallic mineral products (+1.9%).

The value of B.C.’s exports of unwrought aluminum has been trending down for over a year

The value of energy product exports has slumped 23.7% in the first five months of 2020, compared to the same period in 2019. Lower commodity prices were responsible for much of the decline, as coal shipments, which comprise over half the value of all energy product exports, fell 35.3% in value, but actually increased 16.4% in volume. Similarly, natural gas exports dropped 28.9% in value, but declined only 1.1% in volume. Even though exports of electricity jumped 75.0% in value, quantities transmitted over the border soared 290.4%. There was also an increase in all other energy product exports, up 32.2% year-to-date to May.

One of the few bright spots in the export picture was agriculture and food products, of which shipments climbed 6.4%; however, exports of fish products dropped 4.3%. There were also declines in shipments of machinery and equipment (-6.1%), chemicals and chemical products (-11.5%) and fabricated metal products (-4.4%). However, exports of plastics and articles of plastic rose 29.3%.

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 recovered somewhat from a sharp decline in April—when measures related to the pandemic drove the value of shipments down 13.7%—climbing 5.4%. Most of the growth was due to a 10.8% jump in shipments to destinations other than the United States. By contrast, exports to the U.S. edged up only 0.2%.

The increase in the value of overall exports was concentrated in energy products (+9.8%) and metal ores and non-metallic minerals (+23.0%), with higher exports of motor vehicles and parts (+46.9%) also making a significant contribution. For the United States, declines in shipments of metal and non-metallic mineral products (-17.0%) and forestry products and building and packaging materials (-4.8%) offset growth in most other major commodity categories. Growth in exports to the rest of the world was driven largely by substantial increases in shipments of metal ores and non-metallic minerals (+24.4%) and energy products (+14.5%).

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