Exports of softwood lumber, along with other major commodity exports, dropped significantly during the first two months of 2020 compared to the same period last year because of COVID-19. Exports to Mainland China, for example, dropped 14.3 per cent. (Black Press Media File)

Exports of softwood lumber, along with other major commodity exports, dropped significantly during the first two months of 2020 compared to the same period last year because of COVID-19. Exports to Mainland China, for example, dropped 14.3 per cent. (Black Press Media File)

B.C. lumber and energy exports see significant declines amid COVID-19

COVID-19 depresses B.C.’s commodity exports

New figures from the provincial government show a sharp decline in commodity exports because of COVID-19.

Exports dropped by almost 16 per cent in February compared to the same period last year, led by drops in lumber and energy exports, according to a new report from BC Statistics.

Exports of solid wood products declined 22.4 per cent in the first two months of the year, compared to the same period in 2019. Almost all other wood products including softwood lumber (down 21.1 per cent) also recorded large drops. For example, exports of pulp and paper slumped 31.3 per cent.

Energy exports also experienced a “substantial decrease,” falling 28 per cent. Shipments of coal dropped 41.5 per cent, while the value of natural gas and electricity dropped 36.1 and 38.8 per cent respectively.

“The volumes of electricity and natural gas exported actually increased, so the declines were entirely due to lower prices,” the report reads.

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B.C.’s shipments of metallic mineral products decreased 5.7 per cent, while shipments of chemicals and chemical products dropped 17 per cent.

This said, exports for commodities actually increased. Shipments of machinery and equipment climbed 2.4 per cent year-to-date, while exports of fabricated metal products increased 4.7 per cent. Shipments of agriculture and food products rose 3.4 per cent, while exports of plastics and articles of plastic jumped 20.1 per cent.

Looking at export markets, shipments to the United States fell 7.7 per cent, a “fairly modest” drop compared to declines elsewhere. Exports dropped 14.3 per cent to Mainland China, 28.2 per cent to Taiwan, 41.1 per cent to South Korea, 44.6 per cent to India and 50.2 per cent to the European Union.


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