West coast log, lumber exports down in first half of 2012

Sep 06, 2012

Log exports from Washington, Oregon, northern California, and Alaska totaled 736 million board feet in the first 6 months of 2012, a decrease of 25 percent compared to the same time last year, according to the U.S. Forest Service's Pacific Northwest Research Station. During this same period, lumber exports from the West coast totaled 392 million board feet, a decrease of about 17 percent.

"China's has reduced that country's demand for log and lumber imports," said Xiaoping Zhou, a research economist with the station who compiled the data. "This is largely responsible for the overall decrease in exports."

The total value of in the first half of this year totaled $461 million, a decrease of 32 percent. The total value of exported lumber dropped about 14 percent to $287 million.

Other highlights from the first half of 2012:

  • Log exports to China decreased by 38 percent compared to the first half of 2011, totaling 395 million board feet.
  • Log exports to South Korea also decreased, by 36 percent, to 95 million board feet.
  • Japan's log market seems to be recovering, as exports in the first half of 2012 increased by 22 percent, to a total of 231 million board feet.
  • West coast lumber exports to China decreased by 34 percent compared to the first half of 2011, totaling 147 million board feet.
  • Lumber exports to also decreased by 43 percent, to 4.3 million board feet.
"Increasing pressure of Chinese Yuan (Renminbi) appreciation and a strict real estate control policy have slowed down China's overall importation of forest products so far this year," Zhou said. "As a result, we may not see much of an increase in West coast log and lumber exports to China for the next two to three quarters."

Zhou compiled the statistics using data 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 as well as employment in forest industries.

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