China imports of BC lumber jump 97%
According to the latest import statistics from China Customs, Canadian lumber shipments to China (almost all from B.C.) increased by a whopping 97% in the first six months of 2011 over the same period in 2010. Chinese softwood lumber imports from Canada totaled 3.14 million m3 for the first six months of 2011 as compared to 1.6 million m3 for the same period in 2010. Further details will be released in WOOD MARKETS’ China Bulletin - August issue.
Canadian (mainly B.C.) lumber shipments are increasing so rapidly that total B.C. lumber shipments to China are likely to reach 7 million m3 or higher for all of 2011 based on the pace set in the first half of 2011. At this rate of shipments, it appears that China could import up to 35% of total B.C. lumber production in 2011! However, a major constraint to further growth could be in shipping logistics, such as container availability and port loading capacity, not to mention the current high lumber inventory levels in China that could also slow the gains in second half 2011 shipments.
The continuing expansion of China’s softwood lumber market continues to have a major and growing impact on B.C. lumber production and North American lumber prices. Due to continued poor U.S. housing starts and lumber consumption, China has provided a huge market opportunity for many sawmills in B.C., which were closed or curtailed in the 2007 to 2009 period - many have either started up or increased lumber production in the last two years as a result of China.
U.S. lumber exports to China have grown at an even faster rate than Canadian lumber exports. Although U.S. lumber exports started from a much lower level in 2010 compared to Canada (594,000 m3 compared to 1.6 million m3 for Canada), exports increased by 118% to 1.3 million m3 in the first half of 2011.
Although Chinese imports of sawn hardwood and softwood lumber from countries such as Russia, Indonesia and Chile have also increased dramatically in the last few years, it appears likely that Canada will become China’s largest sawn lumber supplier in 2011 - replacing Russia, who has been the major sawn lumber supplier to China for many years.
Based on first half 2011 results, China’s total lumber imports will have increased by over 300% since 2006, or from 6.1 million m3 to about 20 million m3. This means that China will likely replace the U.S. as the world’s largest sawn lumber importer in 2011.
Source: International WOOD Markets Group, http://www.fridayoffcuts.com