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Lumber exports to China rising

Log and lumber exports from Washington, Oregon, northern California, and Alaska in the first three quarters of 2011 already surpass the total exports of 2010 according to the U.S. Forest Service's Pacific Northwest (PNW) Research Station.

"The increasing shipments to China are the main driver of the hike in log and lumber exports from the west coast," says Xiaoping Zhou, a research economist with the station. "The log exports to China in 2010 (664.2 million board feet) was over 40 times of that in 2005 (15.8 million board feet). The lumber exports to China during the same period expanded 76 percent from 98.5 million board feet in 2005 to 173.5 million board feet in 2010. And this trend continues in 2011." 

The total log shipment value in the first nine months of 2011 was $1,036 million compared to $844 million total in 2010. The lumber export value this year from January to September was $528 million, which surpasses the total lumber shipment value of $509 million in 2010.

Zhou compiled the statistics from the U.S. International Trade Commission and Production, Prices, Employment, and Trade in Northwest Forest Industries, a station publication that provides current information on the region's lumber and plywood production prices as well as employment in forest industries. The 2010 report is available online at http://www.treesearch.fs.fed.us/pubs/38431.

The Forest Service pointed to major reasons West Coast exports to China have risen:

• Increasing Russian timber export tariffs (from 6.5 percent in 2006 to 20 percent in 2007; 25 percent in 2008 and 80 percent since 2009), which caused China to shift business to the U.S.;
• Tightening timber export policy of the neighboring countries; 
• Decreasing U.S. domestic demand which leads to higher exporting supply; and  
• Increased demand for timber resources in China owing to urbanization and domestic infrastructure.