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Export Sales – Stable but Soft

Continuing the conflicting sawn softwood sales data, export sales have averaged 7,610 m3 per month over the year-ending July 2015, down 63.6% from an average 20,918 m3 per month for the year-ending July 2014. With domestic sales slower and a depreciated Australian Dollar, export sales could have been expected to grow, rather than decline.

As the chart below shows, the fall is dramatic, but coming off a period over which export sales grew rapidly.

Fig-5-sept

To go straight to the dashboard and take a closer look at the data, click here.

Monthly export sales peaked just two years ago, in April 2014, when they reached 30,260 m3. Since then, they have declined to as low as 4,492 m3 in January 2015. Essentially, as the data shows, for a little more than a year, export sales rose strongly from an average that was little different to the current average export experience.

While there are no certainties in such things, the orthodox expectation is that in a period when domestic softwood sales were declining, export sales would have grown under stable trade and market conditions. Yet they have declined and the related factors are entirely contradictory.

That is, imports have grown over the last year, domestic sales have declined and the currency has depreciated, making potential exports significantly more competitive than just a year ago. (See the prior item in this edition of Statistics Count)

One possible explanation is that the rapid growth in imports to Australia is being matched by significant growth in imports to other countries, from the same countries. If competitively priced imports are impacting sales in Australia, they are likely to be doing so in other markets also. The really significant aspect of which is that the 20.5% depreciation of the Australian Dollar over the last year has had no impact whatsoever.

Posted Date: September 28, 2015

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