SEATTLE - Lumber exports from Russia have fallen for two consecutive quarters, with the first quarter 2016 shipments almost ten percent lower than in the third quarter 2015.
Most of the decline has been in shipments to the former Soviet Republic countries, including Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Tajikistan But trade with Egypt and some European countries was also down. Of the major trading partners, it was only Japan (+33 percent) and China (+10 percent) that increased their imports of Russian lumber. Still, first quarter shipments this year were higher than they were in the first quarter 2015.
Russian exports of softwood lumber has trended upward for over 15 years, more than tripling to reach a record high of over 23 million cubic meters in 2015 (as compared to seven million cubis meters in 2000).
The dramatic change in shipments has mainly been the increase in demand for lumber in the Chinese market. From 2005 to 2015, exports from Russia to China were up from less than one million m3 to almost ten million cubic meters, a majority of which was pine lumber from sawmills in Siberia and Russia’s Far East.
Europe has become a less important market for the Russian lumber industry over the past ten years. Not only has the European slice of the total export pie diminished, but the total Russian export volumes the past few years have also been lower than in the past. In 2005, one-third of Russian lumber export volumes were destined for Europe (mainly the UK, Germany and Estonia), while only 12 percent of the total exports entered the European market in 2015.
Export prices have fallen quite substantially in US dollar terms the past two years at the same time as values in Ruble terms were close to record high levels in the 1Q/16. The past two years, export prices have declined 36% in US dollars, while they have gone up by about the same percentage in Ruble terms, according to the WRQ (www.woodprices.com). The price range for exported lumber in the 1Q/16 was quite wide with prices for higher-grade pine lumber destined for Japan being close to $250/m3, while lower-grade lumber shipped to China averaging only $92/m3.
Global lumber, sawlog and pulpwood market reporting is included in the 52-page quarterly publication Wood Resource Quarterly (WRQ). The report, which was established in 1988 and has subscribers in over 30 countries, tracks sawlog, pulpwood, lumber and pellet prices, trade and market developments in most key regions around the world. www.woodprices.com
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