Port sees drop in forest products exports to China 0
Port Metro Vancouver posts triumphant mid-year results, but a closer look reveals exports to China are down 31 percent in Vancouver, B.C.,Tuesday August 27, 2013. (KEVIN HILL/ 24 HOURS)
Port Metro Vancouver has posted a big drop in B.C. forest product exports to China.
The port is showing strong growth overall, with mid-year cargo shipments totalling 66 million tonnes, a 6% jump from this time last year. But exports of China-bound break bulk forest products — items loaded individually, not in bulk or in containers — were down 31%.
“That’s a pattern that we’ve seen steadily over the last few years,” Robin Silvester, president and CEO of Port Metro Vancouver, told 24 hours by phone. “What we have compensating for that is a lot of lumber and forest products now being exported in containers.”
But container traffic volumes were up just 3% at the port from this time last year. Silvester was unable to say whether that increase was enough to offset the drop in break bulk shipments to China.
Another reason behind the drop, Silvester said, is the recent rebound in the U.S. housing market.
“Quite a lot of lumber is now going south into the U.S. instead of being exported through the port,” he said, adding the Chinese economy continues its gradual slowdown.
But that’s not what Nathaniel Payne, transportation researcher in the department of statistics at Simon Fraser University, has been seeing.
“If you look at exports of lumber from Australia and New Zealand into the Chinese market, those are up,” he said. “Our reduction of exports to the Chinese markets begs us to take a closer look at the factors driving that.”
Silvester insisted the shift is nothing to worry about, adding the port is on track to beat export records for coal, grain and potash.
In a statement, federal Transport Minister Lisa Raitt called the port’s results “clear proof” the Asia-Pacific Gateway strategy was working.