Softwood lumber exports into US soar

The streak of record-high U.S. lumber prices caused offshore softwood lumber exports to the U.S. to expand rapidly in 2017 versus 2016 reports Russ Taylor, Managing Director of FEA Holdings – Canada Inc. The same trend is expected in 2018.

In 2005, the U.S. imported a record volume of non-Canadian lumber — over 6.9 million m3. Following that, they plummeted, declining more than tenfold by 2012 before beginning a slow and steady rise through to 2016 (during which year they reached 1.5 million m3). In 2017, fostered by rising prices, non-Canadian imports reached almost 2.4 million m3.

The largest source of non-Canadian lumber imports into the U.S. is Europe. However, while imports from Europe soared in 2017 versus 2016 — reaching over 1.3 million m3 (from 550,000 m3 in 2016) — this was still a long way off the peak of 4.5 million m3 in 2005. In terms of dominance, Germany is the largest supplier (636,000 m3 in 2017), followed by Sweden (377,000 m3), Romania (95,000 m3), Austria (74,000 m3) and the Czech Republic (45,000 m3).

Remarkably, during the first two months of 2018, European imports grew by 125%. The largest non-Canadian/non-European exporting countries to the U.S. in 2017 were Brazil (373,000 m3), Chile (333,000 m3) and New Zealand (228,000 m3), followed by China (37,000 m3).

It is anticipated that European and non-European countries alike will continue to ramp up their exports to the U.S. in the next few years. WOOD MARKETS 2018 our five-year solid wood products outlook report covering the period 2018–2022, predicts a continuing U.S. lumber shortage over the next two years. This slack will likely be made up through a doubling of European imports between 2017 and 2019.

Source: FEA Holdings – Canada Inc