China’s rapid growth boosts Swedish timber exports

Swedish sawmills are likely to enjoy a 40 percent increase from China sales in 2016 as the Mainland’s demand for wood shows no sign of abating, the Swedish Forest Industries Federation predicts.

“Imports of timber products into China has really taken off in recent years, far exceeding our expectations,” said Magnus Niklasson, Market analyst of the Swedish Forest Industries. “The indications are that the growth rate will be sustained, which is extremely positive for the future of Swedish sawmills.”

In 2015, Swedish sawmills shipped 530,000 cubic metres of sawn timber to China with expectations to reach 750,000 cubic metres during 2016 – a 40 percent rise in just 12 months.

In the coming years, demand in China will continue to be driven by the expansion in the construction of timber-frame houses and a lack of domestic timber supplies following the introduction of a ban on felling in Chinese forests.        

In addition, children’s furniture made of Swedish timber has increased in popularity. The demand for timber products made of Swedish spruce is particularly good as its durability and bright, attractive appearance have made it highly popular among Chinese consumers.

But there is competition from Russia. According to Niklasson, the value of the Russian Rouble is low, which has boosted competitiveness of Russian export products. Russia’s geographical proximity also gives it a further competitive edge that is proving difficult to beat.

“Despite this, we still believe that the upturn in Swedish timber exports will be maintained. China is a huge market and there is substantial growth in demand. Whilst there are limitations on how much Swedish sawmills can supply, I still believe that a figure in excess of one million cubic metres within a few years would very definitely be achievable,” said Niklasson.