China's softwood lumber imports hit a new record of 21.58 million cubic meters in 2016, up 24 percent from a year earlier, a strong rebound after a 1% decline in total imports in 2015 and a 4% increase in total imports in 2014.
The volumes rose by 20% during the Q1/2016 and reached 10.8 million cubic meters of softwood material. The value of the products also went up, by 24%, as compared to the same period of 2015.
Russia exported 12.1 million cubic meters of softwood lumber to China in 2016, surging 44% over the same period last year, becoming China's main supplier of softwood lumber.
Last year, new capacity came on-line to boost its export volumes at the Chinese border, resulting in the export of softwood lumber over logs, while the rugged weakness of the ruble for Russian producers brought higher profits in China.
Russian log exports were affected by tariffs, while softwood weren't. Last year, Europe's market share in China continued to expand, with total exports jumping 43% to 14.2 million cubic meters, accounting for 66% of China's total imports, up 57% year-on-year. Among them, the Scandinavian shipments increased significantly, Austria's shipments doubled, Germany slightly faded and other areas remained relatively stable.
In 2016, North America exported 5.86 million cubic meters of softwood lumber to China, down 5% year-on-year; Canada's exports amounted to 5.22 million cubic meters, down 6% year-on-year.
Although exports in the northern United States increased by 8%, China's market share has been shrinking. Canadian manufacturers are highly concerned about the US last year's softwood lumber market due to tax-free market benefits.
This year, the United States softwood lumber countervailing duty and anti-dumping duties levy on Canada can make China and the domestic market a more and more intense competitor. Last year, the United States exported a large number of low-grade southern pine; South America exported 1.1 million cubic meters of pine, up 23% over the same period last year, of which Chile's exports increased by 10%, accounting for 70% of South American total output, while Brazil's exports doubled.
Last year, China imported 33.7 million cubic meters of softwood logs, up 13% from a year earlier. Among them, imports from New Zealand rose up to 11.6 million cubic meters, a 12% increase, while continued to maintain the largest export status of logs; the United States exports 7.2 million cubic meters, an increase of 23%; European exports of 10.8 million cubic meters, up 4%. Most of the logs exported to China are from Russia, while Ukraine is the most common supplier outside Russia.