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China softwood lumber imports jump in first half 2019

Kajia Deng

By Kajia Deng

September 9, 2019

China imported 14.1 million m3 of softwood lumber in the first half of this year with a value of nearly USD 2.6 billion, up 17 percent and 4.2 percent compared to the same period last year accordingly, according to data by China Bulletin, a monthly publication by International Wood Markets Group Inc.

Russia remained the largest softwood lumber supplier to China, exporting 8.7 million m3 with a value of nearly USD 1.5 billion in the first half (up 18 percent in volume and 7 percent in value from 2018 (H1). China’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) contributed substantially to a rise in lumber volumes from Russia to China, according to China Bulletin.

Canadian softwood lumber shipments to China totalled 2.6 million m3 (almost all from British Columbia) in the first six months of 2019, a substantial increase of 35 percent compared to the same period in 2018.

China’s softwood lumber imports from the Ukraine and Germany increased 100 percent and 265 percent respectively from 2018 H1 to 2019 H1. These volumes were mostly low-grade green lumber made from dead timber and sold at highly competitive prices. During the same period, China’s softwood lumber imports from the United States dropped nearly 38 percent amid US-China trade war tensions.

Softwood log and lumber imports to China appeared to be shifting to new, low-cost exporting countries that can quickly replace declining volumes from the United States, according to China Bulletin.

Softwood lumber stocks at the Taicang Port area were 1.6 million m3 in late July, an increase of 40,000 m3 from last month. The inventory of SPF lumber was 540,000 m3, up 20,000 m3.