US-China trade war impacts forest products

The trade war between the US and China has impacted US exporters of forest products to China. China’s economy slowed during 2018 and early 2019, causing the total value of imported wood pulp, lumber and logs to decline by just over 10 per cent from the first four months of 2018 to the same period in 2019.

Simultaneously, forest product imports from the US fell by almost 42 per cent in value, reports the Wood Resource Quarterly (WRQ).

From January to April, 2019, China imported logs, softwood lumber, and pulp from the US collectively valued at US $600 million. This is down from US$1.03 billion dollars’ worth of forest products imported during the same period in 2018.

The biggest declines in import value of US forest products from the 1Q 2018 to the 1Q 2019 have been those of wood pulp and hardwood logs, falling US $220 million and US$110 million, respectively.

With forest product imports from the US deteriorating and American wood product exporters losing market shares in the Chinese market, imports from other countries, including Canada and Russia, have fallen less or even expanded the past year.

While the US market share for forest products imports has fallen by 35% from the first four months of 2018 to the same period in 2019, Canada’s and Russia’s shares have gone up by 12 per cent and four per cent, respectively.

Supply of softwood logs and lumber from Canada, in particular, has increased in 2019, with import volumes of logs increasing 25 per cent year-over-year, and lumber imports increasing 54 per cent in early 2019 as compared to early 2018.

In addition, there has also been a rise in shipments of both logs and lumber from Europe since the trade conflict started in the summer of 2018.