• News

Tough gig being an importer: volumes down 46%

Over the year-ended October 2023, sawn softwood imports totalled 531,925 m3, down 46.8% on the year prior. Imports are beginning to stabilise and look likely to settle somewhere close to 41,000 m3 on average per month, resulting in annual imports falling to an expected 0.5 million m3 before mid-2024. 

The total weighted average import price in September was AUDFob675m3 down 12.2% on the prior month. The headline chart provides the details and shows that unlike prices, import volumes have been declining rapidly, as excessive inventory and the slow pace of housing construction have taken their toll.

Not surprisingly, this was the worst October outcome for six years. With monthly volume of 37,443m3 lower than October 2022’s 38,465 m3.

The softwood imported category 4407 covers 26 products.

Of these products, four represent most of the volume:

  • 11.10.34 (115,739 m3 -30.4%)
  • 11.10.39 (121,287 m3 -30.7%)
  • 11.99.15 (90,608 m3 +6.5%)
  • 12.10.16 (123,643 m3 -67.7%)

There are 5 main countries of Origin supplying Australia’s import volumes.

  • Austria (39,145 m3 +49.0%)
  • Czech Rep (41,793 m3 -30.9
  • Germany (77,322 m3 -67.2%)
  • Lithuania (81,029 m3 -40.8%)
  • New Zealand (113,803 m3 +2.7%)

Interestingly, despite the significant fall in import volumes, four countries increased their supply to Australia. In addition to Austria and New Zealand (mentioned above) the other two countries were Brazil (14,325 m3 +357.9%) and China (20,641 m3 +7.3%).

Casting our eye a little wider, it is interesting to note that there are 3 products which have grown significantly, albeit off a low base, during the year. These products are:

  • 11.99.07 (8,987 m3 +82.5%)
  • 11.99.13 (5,137 m3 +53.9%)
  • 12.99.19 (2,604 m3 +458.1%)

A magical mystery tour of these smaller but growing products shows our colleagues across the ditch have been active suppliers in recent times. That comes as no surprise given major producers have openly canvassed that option.

Similarly, for 4407.11.99.13, which is a treated radiata product, the major country of origin is New Zealand.

Finally, 4407.12.99.19 Coniferous wood of Fir or Spruce, Roughsawn; (not for making staves) with a cross-sectional area of 120 cm2 > or < 450 cm2, is mainly supplied from Germany and Lithuania.

In a downward pointing market, the rapid deterioration of imports has made a significant contribution to ensuring the total market returns to something close to demand-supply equilibrium.

Posted Date: December 14, 2023

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