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Plywood imports on the rise

Australia’s imports of plywood appear to be rising strongly, with imports up 25.5% for the year-ended February 2018. Reported imports totalled 493,120 m3 for the year, but it is known that at least one of the import codes includes Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) and LVL products. This may be over-inflating the total rise in imports, but this analysis confirms it does not account for all of the increase over the last year.

The chart below shows the magnitude of the import increases over the last year, and especially the impact of the ‘Not Plywood’ code – 4412.99.99.42 – imports of which rose a very large 61.4% to 110,635 m3 for the year-ended February 2018. It is this code that is known to be used for the importation of CLT and LVL products.

fig25

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

It is easy – and even important – to focus attention on the CLT and LVL imports and in a coming edition of Stats Count, we will do just that. However, we should not be distracted by those imports alone, because when they are netted out of the total, plywood imports still rose 17.9% over the year to the end of February 2018.

It can be observed below that imports have not risen across the board. However, they have expanded for several of the key grades.

fig26

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

Imports of coniferous plywood not elsewhere specified (HTISC 4412.99.91.41) rose 132.4% over the year to the end of February, totaling 51,118 m3. Interior coniferous plywood imports (HTISC 4412.39.00.11) rose 17.0% to 53,220 m3 and the exterior cousin (HTISC 4412.39.00.12) saw imports up 26.9% to 62,873 m3 for the year.

Drilling further into the rising imports of softwood plywood not elsewhere specified, the chart below shows details by country.

fig27

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

The chart demonstrates that ‘unspecified’ coniferous plywood imports were up for all countries over the last year, by between 0.3% (Papua New Guinea) and 4.4% (Chile). But of greatest interest may be that although its imports grew just 1.1% over the year-ended February, China’s supplies still delivered 44% of total imports of this grade, reaching 20,872 m3.

The main area of interest for Australian industry in respect of this data is the search for imports of ‘formwork’, which probably should be described under a specific code. Formwork, used to hold wet concrete pours, has important Australian standards that can be unclear without full market scrutiny, including at the point of import.

Most recent plywood import data will not alleviate concerns about the nature of the imports, or that they are being appropriately recorded and identified.

Posted Date: April 27, 2018

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