COLUMN: Forestry at the heart of B.C.’s export economy

Jock Finlayson is the exectuive vice president and chief policy officer of the Business Council of BC

The B.C. forest industry is grappling with challenging market conditions and recent provincial government actions that have increased costs and made it harder to do business. That is worrisome. Forestry is a sustainable, high-wage industry that is the mainstay of many regional economies across B.C. – particularly outside of the lower mainland and Greater Victoria.

The activities that take place across all segments of the forest products sector combined account for $13 billion of B.C.’s economic output (GDP), provide direct employment for up to 60,000 British Columbians, and pay $4 billion a year in taxes, royalties and fees to various levels of government. Another 70,000-80,000 jobs also depend on forestry because of the industry’s extensive linkages with other sectors of the B.C. economy. According to a new economic study, in five of seven B.C. regions forestry supports between 8 per cent and 22 per cent of all jobs. By any measure, the industry packs a substantial economic punch.

Below, I discuss one important way forestry is critical to our economy: its outsized place in B.C.’s exports.

British Columbia is a small market that relies on trade for its economic well-being. Exports of goods and services amount to about one-third of the province’s GDP. These exports furnish the economic wherewithal that enables our households, businesses and public institutions to pay for imports of a wide array of goods and services – everything from vehicles, medical devices, and pharmaceuticals to IT equipment, consumer electronic products, digital services, clothing, and many foodstuffs.

As a small jurisdiction, B.C. needs to pay close attention to the performance and prospects of its “traded industry clusters.” These industries produce goods and services for sale outside of the province – globally, and across the country. Traded industries are vital to the province’s overall prosperity.

Today, forestry ranks as B.C.’s biggest traded industry, and by a significant margin.

The figure below shows the average share of forest products in B.C.’s total merchandise exports, measured on a three-year rolling basis starting in 2009 and ending in 2017. Despite the province’s increasingly diversified economy, forestry continues to loom large as a source of exports, generating 31-35 per cent of the earnings that B.C. reaps from selling goods abroad every year. The annual figures bounce around based on trends in commodity markets, the exchange rate, and foreign demand for B.C. exports.

It may surprise some readers to discover that forestry’s contribution to B.C.’s merchandise exports hasn’t fallen, even though other industries – e.g., energy, agriculture, and high technology – have gained a higher profile. Indeed, if anything, forestry’s place in B.C.’s merchandise export mix has expanded slightly since 2009.

The accompanying table provides more detail on B.C.’s forestry-based exports as of 2017. Lumber and pulp are the top export categories, followed by logs, panel products and paper.

The information summarized above underscores two key points.

First, forestry is still the province’s leading industry, based on the value of exports. Second, forestry’s place within B.C.’s export portfolio has not diminished by much over the past decade, contrary to what many people may believe.

Jock Finlayson is executive vice president and chief policy officer of the Business Council of British Columbia

www.facebook.com

 

Just Posted

GALLERY: 18th annual Sullivan Challenge Longboard Race

The second longest running downhill race in the world.

Kimberley RCMP report uneventful JulyFest weekend

Kimberley RCMP report a quiet JulyFest weekend, with no major incidents. Detachment… Continue reading

Newly renovated Casino of the Rockies officially re-opens

After months of extensive renovations, St. Eugene hosted a ceremony and re-opening of a space “in harmony with Mother Earth and our indigenous culture.”

GALLERY: 2019 JulyFest parade

It was a not-so-balmy 11 degrees and raining for the 2019 JulyFest… Continue reading

Four in custody after armed robbery, suspects linked to other recent crimes

Four people are in custody after Cranbrook RCMP responded to a robbery… Continue reading

WATCH: JulyFest 2019

Bocce, soccer and longboarding all wrapped up into one ‘festy’ weekend.

VIDEO: Man found dead near B.C. teens’ truck could be linked to a double homicide

RCMP said they are looking for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, of Port Alberni

Latest plan is to fly trapped fish by helicopter over Big Bar slide

Multi-pronged plan set in motion to freesalmon blocked by landslide in the Fraser River

Family of missing B.C. senior with dementia frustrated with situation, heartened by community support

Nine days since Grace was last seen the question remains: ‘How can an 86-year-old just disappear?’

B.C. removes personal limits for bringing home out-of-province alcohol

Previous relgulations placed limits on the amount of liquor that B.C. residents could bring home

Unsealed record suggests U.S. man convicted of murdering Vancouver Island couple left DNA on zip tie in 1987

William Talbott is set to be sentenced Wednesday in the murders of Jay Cook and Tanya Van Cuylenborg

Okanagan Air Cadet challenges gender-exclusive haircut policy

Haircut regulation inspires challenge around gender identity

VIDEO: Bystander training gains traction as tool to prevent sexual harassment, violence

Julia Gartley was sexually assaulted after an event, and no one stepped in to help

Two brands of ice cream sandwiches recalled due to presence of metal

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued a recall on Iceberg and Originale Augustin brands

Most Read