Worldwide trade of lumber inched up again in early 2018, hinting that this may be another record year, a new report from Wood Resources International indicates. Six of the ten largest lumber-exporting countries in the world have increased their shipments in 2018, with exports from Russia, Germany, Ukraine, and Austria increasing the most year-over-year.
Canada has seen the biggest decline year-over-year, with shipments in 2018 on pace to be the lowest in five years. Canadian shipments to China and the U.S. during the first half of the year were down 19 percent and 6 percent respectively over 2017.
During the second half of 2017, U.S. lumber prices have been all over the places, and that has continued up to the present. These fluctuations are the result of the changes in the strength of the U.S. housing market, says the report.
Lumber production in the U.S. was up 5.5 percent during the first four months of 2018 - compared over 2017. The Western U.S. saw the biggest increase, at 10 percent, while the rise in the South was just 2 percent. Canada's lumber production was down 1.2 percent over the first fourth months. British Columbia saw a 4.3 percent drop.
From 2016 to 2017, lumber exports from Finland increased by 8.7 percent. However, export volumes were 3.5 percent lower in the first four months of 2018 than in the same period in 2017, the report indicates. So far this year, Saudi Arabia (-49%), China (-25%) and the United Kingdom (-6.7%) have seen the biggest declines in volumes shipped.
The annual export volume of softwood lumber from Sweden in 2017 was 13 million cubic meters, practically unchanged from 2016, and the pattern held true in early 2018 (year-over-year). The biggest changes in exports from 2017 and 2018 have been declines in shipments to Egypt and Japan and increased exports to European customers.
Russia supplied China with record volumes of softwood lumber in the second quarter of 2018, while imports from the U.S. and Europe were down from the first quarter. Lumber producers in Siberia and Russia Far East have continuously increased their market share of total lumber imports to China over the past few years, increasing from about 36% in 2011 to 56% in 2018. The rise in shipments of softwood lumber from Russia to China in the past seven years has come at the expense of log exports. Import prices for lumber plateaued in the second quarter after steadily increasing since early 2016.
Softwood lumber import volumes to Japan were up 6.7 percent quarter-over-quarter, reaching almost 1.6 million cubic meters in the second quarter. This was the second highest quarterly import volume in four years. During the first half of the year, there have been only minor changes in the sourcing of lumber.
The full 56-page report can be found at WoodPrices.com.
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