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Canadian lumber exports to China increase by 3.7% in the first quarter of 2012

According to the latest import lumber statistics from China Customs, Canada (almost all from B.C.) was the largest supplier of softwood lumber to China in the first quarter of 2012, supplying 1.45 million m3 (about 900 million board feet – nominal count) with a 47% market share of total imported softwood lumber.

June 26, 2012  By Dan Comand

In terms of shipments, this is a slight improvement over 2011/Q1 (+3.7%).  Canada’s softwood lumber market share averaged 46% in 2011 and has increased every year since 2006 when its market share was only 16%.

By comparison, Russian volumes kept pace with Canadian shipments in 2012/Q1 (+4.5%) and maintained a 35% market share. In total, China imported 5.1% more total lumber (softwood and hardwoods) in 2012/Q1 than in the same quarter in 2011 and increased imports of softwood lumber by 2.7% compared to the same quarter in 2011.

These details and other analysis on logs, housing and market trends have just been released in the May issue of WOOD MARKETS’ monthly China Bulletin.China’s softwood market appears to be improving in April as compared  with the first three months of 2012 as wholesale prices have increased slightly, but steadily. However, the wholesale market price is still very low and cash flow in the supply chain is still very tight. Considering the uncertain market and current government credit policies, most importers have been slowing their purchasing activities and were trying to get their inventories down.

“Decreasing inventories brings in a good sign for importers who are starting to place new orders with the prospects of better sales later in May, said Jane Guo, Manager of the China Bulletin in Beijing. “On the other hand, however, Chinese importers are still very cautious of the coming months in the market, so it is expected that the market recovery is still uncertain.” Of note, Jane Guo will be attending and speaking at WOOD MARKETS’ Global Softwood Log & Lumber Conference to be held in Vancouver on Wednesday, May 9.


Further analysis on total and residential construction markets is presented in the China Bulletin. Some of these highlights will be included in Gerry Van Leeuwen’s  Global  conference presentation this week in Vancouver, where there is both some good and bad news.

According to statistics recently released by the National Bureau of Statistic (NBS), total investment in China’s real estate development in the first quarter of 2012 increased 23.5% compared to the same period in 2011. The investment in residential buildings was up by 19% and this accounted for 68.1% of all real estate development investment in China. Floor space under construction by real estate development enterprises was up by 25% in 2012/Q1 over the same period in 2011,  while floor space in residential building construction was up  by almost  the same amount. However, floor space in newly started buildings was up by just 0.3%, and specifically, the floor space of residential buildings, which were newly started, dropped by 5.2%.

At this week’s  Global Softwood Log & Lumber Conference, analysis on the China log and lumber market will be touched on by all 13 speakers, as China continues to be a key driver in the global trade of logs and lumber. Also presented with be details on the world’s largest sawmilling site – located in China. China’s growing demand for logs and sawn lumber is having a profound impact on the revitalization of the export business for many companies in many different countries.

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