Issue 20-55: Exports

April 2, 2020

By Destination

Year-to-date to February, the value of B.C. origin commodity exports fell 15.6% as the COVID-19 pandemic started to impact trade, particularly overseas. While shipments to the United States fell 7.7%, that was fairly modest compared to some of the declines elsewhere. There were double-digit declines in exports to Mainland China (-14.3%), the European Union (-50.2%),* South Korea (-41.1%), India (-44.6%) and Taiwan (-28.2%), as well as a 7.3% drop in shipments to Japan and a 5.7% decrease in exports to the United Kingdom.

B.C. origin exports to the European Union have been trending down

B.C. origin exports to the European Union have been trending down

* Note that, starting with this release, the European Union is now being reported using the membership as of February 2020; i.e., excluding the United Kingdom. The data has been adjusted for the entire time series.

By Commodity

Exports of solid wood products declined 22.4% in the first two months of 2020, compared to the same period a year earlier. While shipments of cedar shakes and  shingles climbed 13.0% and exports of selected value-added wood products grew 2.7%, shipments of all other solid wood products fell. There were double-digit drops  in exports of softwood lumber (-21.1%), softwood plywood and veneer (-17.3%), other panel products (-17.1%), logs (-70.2%) and all other solid wood products (-10.5%).

Elsewhere in the forest sector, exports of pulp and paper products slumped 31.3%, including a 31.2% drop in shipments of pulp, a 46.2% plunge in exports of newsprint, a 32.8% decline in shipments of other paper products and a 9.1% decrease in exports of all other pulp and paper products.

Exports of energy products also experienced a substantial decrease, falling 28.0%. There was a precipitous drop in shipments of coal (-41.5%), but exports of natural gas (-36.1%) and electricity (-38.8%) also fell, at least in value. The volumes of electricity and natural gas exported actually increased, so the declines were entirely due to lower prices.

B.C.’s shipments of metallic mineral products decreased 5.7% year-to-date to February, compared to the same two-month period in 2019. This was despite a significant increase of 11.4% in exports of copper ores and concentrates, which comprise around 55% of B.C.’s total exports of metallic mineral products. Shipments of all other major metallic mineral products dropped, including unwrought zinc (-5.0%), unwrought aluminum (-42.5%), unwrought lead (-1.0%), molybdenum ores and concentrates (-52.4%), zinc ores and concentrates (-15.1%) and all other metallic mineral products (-1.0%).

There were also reductions in shipments of chemicals and chemical products (-17.0%) and fish and other seafood (‑2.2%); however, there were some commodities for which exports actually increased. Shipments of machinery and equipment climbed 2.4% year-to-date to February, while exports of fabricated metal products increased 4.7%. There was a 3.4% rise in shipments of agriculture and food products, while exports of plastics and articles of plastic jumped 20.1%.

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 fell 7.5% in February, due mainly to a 26.8% slump in shipments of energy products, as well as a 21.0% drop in exports of metal ores and non-metallic minerals. The largest increase in shipments was for forestry products and building and packaging materials, which climbed 6.1%.

The overall decline was entirely due to a 16.1% drop in exports to the rest of the world excluding the United States, as shipments to the U.S. edged up 0.3%. A 26.6% decline in exports of energy products to the U.S. was offset by growth in shipments to most other major commodity aggregations, including forestry products and building and packaging materials (+16.7%), and industrial machinery, equipment and parts (+15.6%).

The reduction in shipments to the rest of the world was largely driven by a 27.0% drop in energy product exports and a 21.9% decline in shipments of metal ores and non-metallic minerals.

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