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Drop in Chinese demand slows exports, year-end analysis finds

usfs-logo PORTLAND, Ore. March 11, 2015. Log and lumber exports from Washington, Oregon, northern California, and Alaska both decreased in volume in 2014 compared to 2013, the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station reported today.

Exports of west coast logs decreased 13 percent to a total of 1,706 million board feet, while lumber exports decreased 14 percent to 892 million board feet. The total value of these exports also dropped—by 7 percent for logs to a value of $1,310 million, and by 11 percent for lumber to a value of $657 million.

“The drop in demand from China in the second half of 2014 is the major reason for the decrease in west coast log and lumber exports that we saw last year,” said Xiaoping Zhou, a research economist with the station who conducted the analysis and compiled the data. “During this same time, however, China increased its importation of lumber from other regions of the United States, such as Norfolk, New York, and Savannah, Georgia.”

Other 2014 Year-End Highlights:

·         West coast log exports in 2014 represented 55 percent of the total U.S. log export in volume,  compared to 59 percent in 2013;

·         West coast lumber exports in 2014 represented 26 percent of the total U.S. lumber export in volume, compared to 31 percent in 2013;

·         At west coast ports, 64 percent of outgoing logs and 36 percent of outgoing lumber were destined for China in 2014, compared to 63 percent of logs and 40 percent of lumber in 2013;  

·         Total U.S. log exports in 2014 decreased by more than 5 percent in volume compared to 2013, and the value increased by more than 3 percent;

·         Total U.S. lumber exports in 2014 increased by more than 4 percent in volume compared to 2013, and the value increased by 13 percent.

Fourth Quarter 2014 Highlights

·         In the fourth quarter of 2014, west coast log exports decreased by nearly 25 percent in volume to 323 million board feet, compared to the third quarter of 2014, and totaled $255 million.

·         During this same time, lumber exports decreased by 29 percent in volume to 170 million board feet and totaled $128 million.

·         China imported 172 million board feet of west coast logs, a decrease of 45 percent compared to the third quarter of 2014, and 54 million board feet of west coast lumber, a 31-percent decrease.

Zhou compiled the statistics using data from the U.S. International Trade Commission and Production, Prices, Employment, and Trade in Northwest Forest Industries, an annual station publication that provides current information on the region’s lumber and plywood production as well as employment in forest industries. The report is available online at http://www.treesearch.fs.fed.us/pubs/45432.

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