Stagnant to deteriorating economic conditions reduced North American hardwood exports to some markets during October 2014, and curtailed growth to several others. Most notably, European markets were quieter in October amid growing economic anxiety.
Japanese demand also showed signs of slowing as its economy continued to struggle. Officially, Chinese GDP grew at an annualized rate of 7.3% in the third quarter, but weaker housing markets contributed to a smaller-than-expected October bump in Chinese hardwood lumber purchasing.
Conflicts in Iraq and Syria impacted shipments to surrounding countries. Exports to Mexico, however, continued to show solid growth.
Looking back at August—the last month with available trade data—U.S. hardwood lumber exports totaled 132 million board feet. This was 8% higher than in August 2013, but 1% below July 2014.
Exports declined from July to August to 7 of the Top 10 markets, including China, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Japan, Germany, Taiwan and Thailand. Shipments to Canada were virtually unchanged, and only Vietnam and Italy showed increases.
Total year-to-date U.S. hardwood lumber exports were up 16% through August. U.S. hardwood log exports were up by an even more impressive 28% on the year, with large gains to each of the four largest markets: China (+54%), Canada (+25%), Vietnam (+24%) and Japan (+25%).