Softwood exports around the world continue to rise

According to a report by Wood Resources International, in 2016, softwood lumber trade around the globe went up by 12 per cent year-over-year to hit a new record high of 121 million ft³.

Since the Great Recession that lasted from 2007 to 2009, the international trade of lumber has been steadily growing, and shipments since 2010 have grown up to 66 per cent.

The fact that China has been one of the forces driving up lumber shipments across the globe for the past seven years should be no surprise, but it is also interesting that the United States (US) has brought up imports of softwood lumber more than China.

In 2016, lumber exports from British Columbia (BC), in Canada, peaked at their highest point for the last decade, and their lumber shipments to the US increased by 25 per cent, while shipments to Asia decreased by around 8 per cent.

Prices for lumber in the Nordic countries including Latvia and Lithuania were at their lowest historical point in 2015 and 2016. However, Finland in close by Scandinavia, saw their lumber exports shoot up 10 per cent in January to October 2016, and a point of interest is that the three largest export markets for sawmills in Finland are not in the Eurozone, but in China, Egypt, and Japan instead.

China posted record high of softwood lumber imports in 2016, up by an estimated 20 per cent from 2015.

Japan in 2016 witnessed the highest softwood lumber imports in three years as the demand for wood in the nation went up by 3.6 per cent from 2015. The country also experienced a slow change in their sourcing of lumber, moving away from North America to Eastern Russia and Europe over the span of a few years, and from 2015 to 2016, the market share held by North America decreased from 39 per cent down to 35 per cent, while the Russian and Nordic nations saw their market share rise from 39 per cent to 42 per cent year-over-year.

Russia in 2016 also experienced their lumber exports soaring up 10 per cent, with more than half the wood accounted for exported to China.