Home Blogs Hakan Ekstrom Global Trade in Lumber Reached a Six-Year High in 2013

Global Trade in Lumber Reached a Six-Year High in 2013

With demand for lumber being in recovery mode in a number of countries in the world in 2013, global trade of lumber was on track to reach its highest level since before the global financial crisis in 2008. The biggest increases in imports in 2013 have been to the US, China and Japan.

Global trade of softwood lumber in 2013 wasestimated to have been just over 93 million m3, valued at approximately 25 billion US dollars (annualized data based on data for the first ten months). The trade volume last year was approximately nine percent more than in 2012, reaching its highest level since before the global financial crises in 2008 (see graph).


Softwood lumber is, by far, the most commonly shipped wood product worldwide and the US continues to be the major destination for internationally traded lumber, with Canada currently supplying almost 96% of all imports to the country. Lumber shipped by break-bulk vessels and/or by container ships accounted for more than half of the total volume of lumber traded in the world in 2013. The largest overseas trade flows were between Canada and Asia, followed by shipments from Sweden to the United Kingdom and Northern Africa.

The biggest trends in overseas lumber trade in 2013 have been a continued increase in exports from the Nordic countries to Asia (mainly Japan) and from North America (mainly Canada) to China, while there has been a decline in trade within Europe and of shipments from most supplying countries to Northern Africa.
The unrest and uncertain political situation in Egypt has left supplying sawmills searching for alternative markets and many lumber companies in Europe and Russia have found new opportunities for increased sales in Asia over the past 12 months.

Lumber shipments to Asia from North America and Europe have more than doubled in four years

There has been an unprecedented increase in demand for softwood lumber in Asia the past few years with the three major importing countries; Japan, China, and South Korea, together importing more than twice as much lumber in 2013 as compared to five years ago. Asia has also increased its share of total global import dramatically the past decade from about 13% in 2003 to over 28% in 2013.
Although Canada and Russia are the largest suppliers of lumber to China, the biggest increase in shipments in 2013 were from Chile, Sweden and Finland. With a strengthening lumber market in the US it is likely thatCanadian sawmills in the western provinces may redirect some of their current shipments from Asia into the American market in the coming year and, as a consequence,open up opportunities for European and Latin American lumber pro-ducers to expand exportation toboth Japan and China.

Continued increase in wood products trade in the Pacific Rim expected in the coming year

Trading of logs and lumber is likely to continue to bevery active in the Pacific Rim region in the coming yearwith North America, Northern Europe and New Zealand increasing their shipments of wood products to China and Japan where housing starts and building constructions are expected to continue to increase and domestic wood supply will not be sufficient to meet the higher demand in these two markets.

Global pulpwood and timber market reporting is included in the 52-page quarterly publication Wood Resource Quarterly (WRQ). The report, established in 1988 and with subscribers in over 30 countries, tracks sawlog, pulpwood, wood chips, lumber and pellet prices, trade and market developments in most key regions around the world. To subscribe to the WRQ, please see www.woodprices.com

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Wood Resources International LLC
Hakan Ekstrom
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