China’s demand for logs and lumber grew in 2018

China’s demand for logs and lumber grew in 2018 vs. 2017, but most of the gains were recorded earlier in year before a slowdown and price uncertainty emerged

China Bulletin reports that softwood log imports gain 9%,
but softwood lumber imports decline by 1%.

February 15, 2019 — Vancouver, BC 

In preparation for the February issue of the FEA-Canada (WOOD MARKETS) monthly China Bulletin, we have released an advanced summary of China’s 2018 annual imports of logs and lumber. This is a regular feature in each monthly issue and is in addition to China export data, log and lumber prices, and industry/market analysis.

China’s demand for logs and lumber grew in 2018 as compared to 2017, but most of the gains were recorded in the first half to two-thirds of the year before a slowdown occurred. Aside from weaker demand, the start of the US-China trade war in the second half of 2018 created price uncertainty and this kept buyers on the sidelines as they waited out the dispute (and many still are).

China Log Imports

China’s total log imports in 2018 were 8% higher as compared to 2017. China’s total log imports (softwood and hardwood) were 60.0 million m3 – 41.4 million m3 were softwood (+9%) and 18.6 million m3 were hardwood (+8%)

The largest softwood log importing countries to China in 2018 were New Zealand (43% share), Russia (19%), followed by the USA (12%), Australia (10%), Canada (6%) and Uruguay (5%).

The largest percent increases in softwood log imports in 2018 vs. 2017 were from Uruguay (+174%), Japan (+24%) and New Zealand (+22%). Conversely, moderate declines were recorded, led by Canada (-28%), Russia (-10%) and Australia (-5%).

China Lumber Imports

China’s total lumber imports in 2018 showed a small decrease of 2% as compared to 2017. China’s total lumber imports (softwood and hardwood) in 2018 were 36.7 million m3 – 24.9 million m3 were softwood (-1% as compared to 2017) and 11.9 million m3 were hardwood (-3%).

The largest softwood lumber importing countries to China were Russia (63% share), followed by Canada (17%), Finland (5%), Sweden (3%) and Chile (3%).

The largest increases in softwood lumber imports in 2018 vs. 2017 were Russia (+10%), Brazil (+8%) and Chile (+4%). Conversely, moderate declines were recorded, led by Finland (-32%), Germany (-24%), USA (-23%), Sweden (-22%) and Canada (-15%).

The three largest softwood importers – Russia, Canada and New Zealand – accounted for 66% of China’s softwood log imports and 81% of China’s softwood lumber imports. A more detailed analysis on the outlook for Russia’s log and lumber exports and its fit with China over the next 5 to 10 years is available from the just-released report, Russia: Forest Industry Competitiveness & Export Outlook to 2025

A full analysis of all China’s log and lumber imports, both monthly and annually, is available in this month’s China Bulletin (to be released the week of February 18).

The China Bulletin provides monthly updates on China’s wood products industry and market. To supplement this market analysis, FEA has recently produced China’s Import Demand for Softwood Logs and Lumber to 2023 • The Changing Supply Chain in China. This fourth edition and 200-page report is available by subscription at www.getfea.com .