Asia trade boosts B.C.’s economy

The province’s trade with Asia is helping make up for a sluggish U.S. economy.

The province’s trade with Asia is helping make up for a sluggish U.S. economy.

That is the news from Central 1, which sends out a weekly B.C. economics briefing.

Helmut Pastrick, Central 1 economist, said exports are probably the most direct link to development in Asia, China in particular.

“Lumber is significant as is pulp and paper and we’re starting to ship more minerals like copper and coal,” he said. “I expect over the coming years the numbers will increase substantially.”

China is now B.C.’s second largest trading partner, taking over from Japan during the last year.

Trade with the U.S. is still important, with natural gas being a significant factor.

Pastrick said though natural gas is not on the radar right now as a commodity traded with Asia, that could change with the advent of liquid natural gas (LNG).

“It’s really a continental commodity right now, but that could change when we develop LNG capacity,” he said.

The market with the U.S. is well-developed and long-standing, whereas the market with China is breaking new ground, Pastrick said. He added we should see a nice pick up in lumber exports when the US housing starts rise.

“The U.S. economy is growing, but not strongly. It may take up to five years, but housing starts should rise, with direct benefit for B.C.”

Not only will that benefit lumber sales, but also pulp and paper and most commodities, he said.

DeLynda Pilon, Prince George Reporter