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Sawn softwood imports -30.6% year-ended July

Australia’s imports of sawn softwood continued to decline in July, with annualised imports down a very solid and growing 30.6%. Meanwhile, monthly imports in July were 47% lower than in June, falling to just 36,746 m3. Importantly, the weighted average import price for July lifted 3.1% on the prior month and was recorded at AUDFob681/m3.

Given the steep decline in the housing market, there is no surprise import volumes have continued to decline from their peak in November 2022. Then, the year-end volume was 1.004 million m3. Just eight months on, imports year-ending July 2023 were 649,520 m3 or 30.6% lower.

As the chart shows, falling import volumes have resulted in moderation of prices, from a peak of AUDfob868/m3 to July’s AUDFob681/m3.

Significantly, current volume and prices are still above the trough from the previous cycle, the bottom of which was experienced in June 2020, when the volume fell to 455,465 m3 and the weighted average price was a sickly AUDFob506/m3.

As has been regularly reported, of the twenty-six products covering softwood imports, there are four which represent most of the volume, as set out below:

  • 11.10.34 (146,220m3 +22.5%)
  • 11.10.39 (136,445m3 -20.5%)
  • 11.99.15 (98,661m3 +67.1%)
  • 12.10.16 (173,517m3 -53.9%)

As previously reported, of the other products, it is treated radiata that continues to show growth., which can be observed in the chart below. The monthly import volumes are a little puny, totalling just 16,906 m3 year-ended July, but that does not diminish the 45% increase compared to the prior year.

Historically, this was a medium to large volume import product, with year-end August 2018 representing the peak at 44,154 m3. While well down on those levels, it is interesting to see supply of this product continuing to strengthen, including for trans-Tasman shipments, where shipping costs and absolute prices are likely to be lower than for the main European supplies.

Three countries continue their domination of the Australian import supply for sawn softwood, as set out here:

  • Germany 123,161 m3 -41.3%
  • New Zealand 120,363 m3 +20.6%
  • Lithuania 96,300 m3 -20.5%

The other two rounding out the Top 5 nations are:

  • Estonia 50,380m3 -48.2%
  • Czech Republic 49,065m3 -17.9%

This is displayed in the chart below.

Posted Date: October 4, 2023

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