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Softwood log exports up 7.4% YE March

Softwood log exports totalled 3.931 million m3 over the year-ended March 2018, rising 7.4% compared with the prior year.  Relevantly, the year-end result was marginally lower (by approximately 118,000 m3) than the annualised peak of 4.049 million m3 achieved over the year-ended September 2009. Lower they may be, but at least to date, expectations of a more sustained reduction in exports are yet to materialize.

The chart below shows the exports, noting that it includes softwood log exports that from 1st January 2017 have been broken down to greater levels of detail than prior.

fig 15

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

The four softwood log export codes detailed in the chart are:

4403.21.00 ~ Pine >15 cm

4403.22.00 ~ Pine <15 cm

4403.25.00 ~ Other >15 cm

4403.26.00  ~ Other <15 cm

Prior to 1st January 2017, all softwood logs were recorded under the code now used for Pine >15 cm. The categorization of softwood logs by their diameter is an attempt to distinguish sawlogs from pulpwood logs.

The <15 cm diameter log is of course an arbitrary measure. Many in the industry consider that anything  >22 cm diameter is a sawlog. The gap between 15 and 22 cm is a grey area because logs in this range may not be sawlogs, but could be peeled.

Over the year-ended March, Softwood logs <15 cm diameter totalled 1.082 million m3, accounting for 27.5% of total exports. The larger dimension log exports totalled 2.848 million m3 and accounted for 72.5% of total exports. The chart below shows that the significant majority of these logs is exported to China. Note that because the exports rose so significantly over 2017 because this is year-end data and exports commenced only in January 2018.

fig 16

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

A modest but consistent quantity of these smaller diameter logs was exported to Korea, though that volume appears to be declining. While the separation of softwood logs by their diameter remains a little more crude and a little less refined than many may like, this is a useful measure for understanding what is a substantial trade volume.

Posted Date: May 25, 2018

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