A Key Economic Driver

Maritime trade is a key economic driver in the Canadian economy. 

When direct, indirect, and spin-off jobs are taken into account, Port Metro Vancouver is responsible for an estimated 106 thousand jobs, with a payroll of almost 5 billion dollars.  

Port Metro Vancouver’s contribution to the Gross Domestic Product is estimated to be almost 8 billion dollars.  The Port of Prince Rupert also has a significant impact, contributing 280 million dollars to the Gross Domestic Product and 500 million dollars in economic output for regional and provincial economies.

This economic activity is the result of the movement of goods to and from Canada, through the ports of BC.

Recent studies by Industry Canada provide a snapshot of where those goods are coming from, and where they are going to, as they move through BCMEA member facilities.  

Our largest trading partner continues to be the United States, but Asia-Pacific countries play a significant role in maritime trade.

External Trade (2009)  - Through BC Ports

Source:  Strategis, Industry Canada - *Includes imports destined for other parts of Canada
Source:  Strategis, Industry Canada - *Includes imports destined for other parts of Canada
The types of goods moving through BC ports is extremely varied.  The movement of goods is organized by sector. Each sector is categorized by the kind of ships and equipment used in handling the goods.

The main goods sectors include: 

  • Bulk – This includes grain, wood pulp and other commodities.
  • Break Bulk – This includes steel, lumber, automobiles and other large items.
  • Containers – Intermodal containers are used to ship a wide variety of goods. Since containers come in a variety of sizes, the industry used a standard called TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Unit) for measuring total capacities.
  • Cruise ships – A variety of cruise ships call on BC ports, serving approximately 1 million passengers a year. 

*source, 2010 BCMEA Annual Report

BC ports are closer to Asia by a number of days of sailing time, giving them a unique advantage over other ports on the US west coast.  Additionally, Canada’s west coast has excellent rail and road capacity, making it possible to move goods landed here to their destinations in other parts of Canada and the United States.

BCMEA’s mission is to continue to provide cost-competitive solutions to its member-companies, ensuring that BC ports continue to play a major role in Canada’s economic future.

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