Global lumber and timber markets closed 2017 with new highs

 Around the world, the global timber markets saw an increase in prices, with the Global Sawlog Price Index (GSPI) rising to US$76.34 per m³ in the final quarter of 2017, up one per cent from 3Q/2017. With this consecutive fourth quarter-on-quarter rise, the GSPI has shot up 9.8 per cent in a year.

Meanwhile, according to Wood Resource Quarterly, sawlog prices have gone up in terms of USD in 2017, with the biggest growth seen in Western North America, Eastern Europe, as well as the Nordic countries. Though prices remained lower in Europe in regards to the Euro in 4Q/2017 after reaching a two year peak in 3Q/2017, the European Sawlog Price Index (ESPI) fell 1.2 per cent in 4Q/2017.

On the other hand, trade of softwood lumber hit an all-time high in 2017 as demand for wood remained strong in the majority of global key markets. In 2017 alone, an estimated 126 million m³ of softwood lumber was exported from Canada, Finland, Russia, and Sweden to markets with high lumber consumption rates such as China, Germany, Japan, The United Kingdom (U.K.), and the United States (U.S.).

As the U.S. continued efforts to rebuild in the wake of the hurricanes that rocked it in 2017, softwood lumber production in the country reached the highest levels seen in a decade, with the biggest increase taking place in the southern states. Moreover, the strong market and demand for lumber in the U.S. resulted in record high lumber prices in both the U.S. and Canada in late 2017 and early 2018.

Similarly, Finnish softwood lumber production hit a ten-year high in 2017, with production driven up by its expanding lumber exports, especially to China. Meanwhile, prices for softwood lumber imported to China have been steadily increasing, with the highest levels hit in early 2018.

However, lumber markets in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have fallen by over 20 per cent to an estimated nine million m³ in 2017 after experiencing rapid growth from 2007 to 2015, and peaking in 2015, according to Wood Resource Quarterly.

Japanese lumber imports also sell in the fourth quarter of 2017, though the total volume for the year showed an increase for the second consecutive year.