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Softwood imports falling in line with consumption

Australia’s imports of sawn softwood products slipped back to just over 782,000 m3 for the year-ended June 2019. Imports slowed very rapidly in the June quarter, with imports in June totalling just 30,413. This was the lowest monthly import volume since March 2009, more than a decade ago.

The chart below demonstrates that just as they rose strongly through to around the end of 2018, Australia’s imports of sawn softwood products has plunged dramatically more recently.

While the plunge is evident, it should be noted that there is a symmetry across the last two years, such that year-ended June, total imports are 4.2% higher than they were a year earlier. However, that will slide away rapidlyy over coming months as higher import volume months leave the annual total to be replaced by dramatically lower numbers a year later.

To underscore this point, the 30,413 m3 of imports in June 2019 was 57.8% lower than imports in June 2018 that reached 72,001 m3.

fig6

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

Away from the aggregate, it can be observed in the second chart and the table that follows, that many sub-grades of sawn softwood experienced import declines over the last year.

fig7

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

Grade  YE Jun ’18  YE Jun ’19*  % Change
4407.11.10.23  6,073  3,538  -41.7
4407.11.10.30  15,667  11,715  -25.2
4407.11.10.31  46,943  43,799  -6.7
4407.11.10.32  48,974  30,244  -38.2
4407.11.10.40  242,665  305,926  26.1
4407.11.99.01  5,635  14,372  155.0
4407.11.99.02  41,714  30,280  -27.4
4407.11.99.03  6,923  6,085  -12.1
4407.11.99.04  140,757  123,990  -11.9
4407.11.99.10  8,178  9,278  13.5
4407.11.99.11  1,259  1,154  -8.3
4407.11.99.12  5,229  4,752  -9.1
4407.12.10.13  123,418  126,986  2.9
4407.12.91.14  788  1,957  148.4
4407.12.99.15  10,311  9,276  -10.0
4407.12.99.16  1,159  1,066  -8.0
4407.19.10.17  12,416  27,363  120.4
4407.19.91.90  17,341  17,273  -0.4
4407.19.99.91  11,336  8,821  -22.2
Total  746,786  777,875  4.2%

* Minor variations from the original aggregate due to rounding and timing

Just as we can observe that some grades experienced very dramatic declines over the last year, others experienced substantial increases. But that only deals with volumes. When an import slide is on, it is often prices that become the victim. At an average – and potentially misleading – level, that has definitely not been the case in this instance, as the chart below shows.

Even as imports crashed in June 2019, the average import price jagged sharply up, to AUDFob591.29/m3, up 13.5% on the prior month and 15.2% higher than in June 2018.

fig8

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

The risk is that the average price has been heavily polluted most recently by the products being imported mainly selling at higher prices than the products that have been in decline, from an import perspective. So, to make more sense of what is clearly a very active import market right now, the next item addresses key product imports in more detail.

Posted Date: August 29, 2019

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