Port of Vancouver reports strong commodity exports for first half of 2019


Despite growing concerns for the B.C. economy and rising global trade tensions, the Port of Vancouver has shipped an increased amount of commodities in the first half of 2019. This news is in addition to strong agricultural commodity shipments reported by both CN Rail and CP Rail last week.

Pulse crop exports were up significantly year over year at 34.2 per cent, and wheat exports were up 22.4 per cent. Additionally, fertilizer based exports were up 27.3 per cent in the first half of the year as well.

“Wheat exports to China have been 970,000 tonnes in January to June compared to 650,000 the year before, but volumes have bounced around from month to month,” explains Chuck Penner of Leftfield Commodities Research. “In May, over 400,000 tonnes of wheat went to China, but that was abnormally large. In June, that dropped to less than 40,000 tonnes. Problem is that people get all excited or depressed over one month’s number but forget to look at the larger picture.”

Penner also notes that the pattern of pulse exports have been atypical as well.

“Typically, we have a big surge in and fall, and things quiet down when supplies drop off in spring and early summer. This year we had plenty of supplies and decent demand throughout the whole year, so exports in the first half of 2019 have been well above average.”

As expected, canola exports were softer in the first six months of the year by 12.6 per cent through the Port of Vancouver. Canola seed export restrictions by China have definitely received much attention from farmers, grower groups and politicians since March, and as Penner notes, there’s been a lot more “smoke than fire for Canadian exports.”

“Certainly, canola, pork, and beef have been damaged. Even soybeans exports to China look like they’ve been slow in 2019, but it only seems that way compared to last year which was abnormal.”

Overall shipments through the Port of Vancouver of all goods was 72.5 million tonnes, which is a new record and an increase of 0.5 per cent over the same period in 2018.

With concerns over global trade flows growing, Canada’s ability to export will be a heavy focus for economists and the agriculture industry.

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