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New Zealand is top softwood log exporter

June 26, 2014, Seattle, USA - New Zealand has become the world's largest exporter of softwood logs, with shipments in 2013 accounting for over 20 per cent of global trade, according to estimates by WRI. Russia and the US ranked second and third as global log suppliers, each shipping about 15 per cent of the softwood logs traded in the world last year.

Not only has the volume of logs exported from New Zealand increased dramatically the past five years, with almost a doubling of exports to over 16 million m3, but the value of the logs has gone up even faster. The average value of exported logs reached a new record high in March this year, which was double the value just four years ago.

Despite the dramatic increase in sawlogs leaving the country and the closures of a number of manufacturing facilities in New Zealand, domestic log consumption has not changed much the past ten years. In 2013, the forest industry consumed just slightly less logs than the ten-year annual average consumption.

China is, of course, the reason for the surge in log exports and the record high timber harvest levels in New Zealand. In 2013, shipments to China accounted for 72% of the total export volume, followed by South Korea, India and Japan. The magnitude of the log export volume cannot be underscored enough. In the 4Q/13, as much as 57 per cent of the timber harvest in New Zealand was exported in log form. Such a high share of exports of unprocessed wood is unmatched in the rest of the world.

While timberland owners have mightily benefited from the strong log export market, domestic sawmills have not seen the same surge in export volumes. In 2008, the total value of exported lumber equaled that of exported logs at approximately 500 million US dollars. Since that time, the export value for lumber has gone up a respectable 30%. However, this pales in comparison with the value of logs that have gone up fourfold to reach close to two billion US dollars in 2013.

Read more about New Zealand's spectacular rise to become the world largest log exporter in the latest issue of the Wood Resource Quarterly.

Global pulpwood and timber market reporting is included in the 52-page quarterly publication Wood Resource Quarterly (WRQ). The report, which was established in 1988 and has subscribers in over 30 countries, tracks sawlog, pulpwood, lumber and pellet prices, trade and market developments in most key regions around the world. To subscribe to the WRQ, please go to www.woodprices.com.