Issue 20-76: Exports

May 5, 2020

By Destination

The value of B.C. origin exports fell 15.6% in the first three months of 2020 compared to the same period a year earlier, the result of a combination of factors, including rail blockades and the impact of the current global pandemic. Exports to all of B.C.’s major trading partners declined, with the exception of the United Kingdom (+9.2%) and Australia (+11.6%). There were reductions in exports to the United States (-4.2%), Mainland China (-23.6%), Japan (-17.2%), South Korea (-40.6%), India (-36.4%), the European Union (‑48.8%) and Taiwan (-18.7%).

March 2020: B.C.’s exports have taken a hit due to recent events

By Commodity

The value of B.C.’s exports of solid wood products dropped 17.9% in the first quarter, compared to the same three-month period in 2019. Shipments of softwood lumber declined 19.1%. This was despite the fact that exports of lumber to the U.S.—the destination of around 70% of B.C.’s lumber exports in the first quarter—increased 4.7%, in spite of the tariffs imposed by the United States. There were also declines in shipments of logs (-72.2%), softwood plywood and veneer (-6.6%) and other panel products (-11.7%). However, there were increases in exports of selected value-added wood products (+10.3%), cedar shakes and shingles (+15.0%) and other solid wood products (+16.0%).

Elsewhere in the forest sector, exports of pulp and paper products plunged 34.6% in the first quarter. There were reductions in shipments of pulp (-32.4%), newsprint (-65.5%), other paper and paperboard (-45.1%) and other pulp and paper products (-2.8%).

The value of energy product shipments dropped 29.8%, driven by substantial declines in the value of exports of coal (‑41.2%) and natural gas (-40.8%). Much of the decrease was due to lower prices, although the volumes shipped also fell. While the quantity of electricity exported increased by 158.6%, significantly lower prices limited the rise in value to only 0.2%. There was a substantial 94.0% gain in the value of shipments of all other energy products.

There was an 8.6% reduction in exports of metallic mineral products in the first quarter, compared to the same period a year earlier. This was despite a 7.4% increase in shipments of copper ores and concentrates and a 155.2% jump in exports of zinc ores and concentrates. There were declines in exports of unwrought zinc (-16.1%), unwrought aluminum (-43.9%), unwrought lead (-4.8%), molybdenum ores and concentrates (-45.5%) and all other metallic mineral products (-9.8%).

B.C.’s exports of agriculture and food products climbed 5.5% in the first quarter; however, shipments of fish and seafood products dropped 6.4%.

There was strong growth in exports of fabricated metal products (+8.5%) and plastics and articles of plastic (+24.0%), while shipments of machinery and equipment increased 2.6%. However, exports of chemicals and chemical products fell 13.5%.

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 climbed 6.4% in March, largely on the strength of a 21.0% jump in shipments of energy products. Exports increased both to the United States (+5.5%), as well as to the rest of the world (+7.6%).

The increase in exports to the United States was driven by growth in shipments of metal and non-metallic mineral products (+17.2%), forestry products and building and packaging materials (+5.5%) and energy products (+8.3%). For exports to the rest of the world, a 32.0% rise in shipments of energy products was largely responsible for the increase, while an 8.4% increase in exports of metal ores and non-metallic minerals also contributed. Most of the other major product groups experienced a drop in exports.

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