China Log and Lumber Imports Post Weaker Results in 2015

Construction market slowdown from massive over-building and a slowing economy coupled with eroding currency rates and lower U.S.-dollar prices create a tough year, especially for log exporters to China.

China Customs released the December and total 2015 statistics for forest products imports, including logs and lumber. While the eroding import volumes and prices have been visible all year, the year-end statistics (see below) confirm that 2015 was a tough year for exporters to China. Working against importers has been a variety of economic factors that resulted in lower consumption of logs and lumber, especially in the building construction market. Rising inventories of unsold residential and office units and lower real estate prices coupled with tighter credit caused a building construction slowdown in China, impacting exporters’ volumes to China. While demand in the furniture and decoration markets has remained more stable, the net effect has impacted log exporters more negatively than lumber ones.

China’s total log imports in 2015 were substantially lower, by 13.3% (-6.8 million m3), and totaled 44.57 million m3. The USA saw the biggest reduction in softwood log exports to China in 2015 (-2.0 million m3), followed by New Zealand (-1.2 million m3) and Russia (-1.0 million m3).

China’s total lumber imports in 2015 were slightly higher by 3.8% (+980,000 m3) and amounted to 26.62 million m3. Russia was the big winner in terms of higher lumber imports (+1.6 million m3) while Canada had the largest decline (-1.0 million m3).

Analysis and outlooks for log and lumber exports to China were provided in the December and January issues of WOOD MARKETS’ China Bulletin. A full report on the 2015 export trends will be provided in the February issue of the China Bulletin.

The log and lumber import highlights for 2015 (as compared to 2014) are as follows:

Softwood Logs:

  • China’s total softwood log imports in 2015 decreased to 29.74 million m3, or 16.7% lower than in 2014.
  • The leading supplier in 2015 was New Zealand (-10.2% over 2014; to 10.39 million m3), followed by Russia (also -10.2%; to 8.99 million m3).
  • The largest percentage increase was from Japan (+37.0%; on small volumes to 433,000 m3).
  • The largest percentage decrease was from Eastern European countries, or -47%; to a combined 1.1 million m3).
  • Of the top 10 exporters to China, eight countries recorded negative volumes and two reported higher exports as compared to 2014.

Hardwood Logs:

  • China’s total hardwood log imports in 2015 decreased to 14.83 million m3, or 5.5% lower than in 2014.
  • The leading supplier in 2015 was Papua New Guinea (-4.1% over 2014; to 3.16 million m3), followed by the Solomon Islands (+1.3%; to 2.22 million m3).
  • The largest percentage increase was from Equatorial Guinea (+31.7%; to 657,000 m3).
  • The largest percentage decrease was from Malaysia (-66%; on small volumes to 197,000 m3).
  • Of the top 10 exporters to China, five countries recorded negative volumes and five reported higher exports as compared to 2014.

Softwood Lumber:

  • China’s total softwood lumber imports in 2015 decreased to 17.46 million m3, or 1.0% lower than in 2014.
  • The leading supplier in 2015 was Russia (+16.5% over 2014; to 8.40 million m3), followed by Canada (-15.1%; to 5.57 million m3).
  • The largest percentage increase was from Finland (+57.4%; to 614,000 m3).
  • The largest percentage decrease was from Germany (-37%) and Argentina (-36%) on small volumes.
  • Of the top 10 exporters to China, five recorded negative volumes and five reported higher exports as compared to 2014.

Hardwood Lumber:

  • China’s total hardwood lumber imports increased in 2015 to 9.16 million m3, or 14.4% higher than in 2014.
  • The leading supplier with the largest volume increase in 2015 was Thailand (+36.9% over 2014; to 3.05 million m3).
  • The largest percentage increase was from Russia (+54.8%; to 1.07 million m3).
  • The largest percentage decrease was from Mozambique (-79%; on small volumes to 29,000 m3).
  • Of the top 10 exporters to China, five recorded negative volumes and five reported higher exports as compared to 2014.

Full details of the log, lumber, panels and pulp exports to China in 2015 and previous years, as well as monthly price trends, are produced each month in WOOD MARKETS’ China Bulletin.

For details, visit: https://www.woodmarkets.com/publication/china-bulletin/

For further information, please contact:

International WOOD Markets Group –  (+1) 604-801-5996   or e-mail:

Russell Taylor               retaylor@woodmarkets.com

Tony Marra                   tmarra@woodmarkets.com

info@woodmarkets.com or visit http://www.woodmarkets.com/ Publishers of WOOD Markets Monthly International Report and 5 other strategic/forecast reports.