Log and lumber exports from Washington, Oregon, northern California, and Alaska in the first three quarters of 2011 have surpassed the total exports of 2010 according to the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station.
“The increasing shipments to China are the main driver of the hike in log and lumber exports from the west coast,” says Xiaoping Zhou, a research economist with the station. “The log exports to China in 2010 (664.2 million board feet) was over 40 times of that in 2005 (15.8 million board feet). The lumber exports to China during the same period expanded 76% from 98.5 million board feet in 2005 to 173.5 million board feet in 2010, and this trend continues in 2011.”
The total log shipment value in the first 9 months of 2011 was $1,036 million compared to $844 million total in 2010. The lumber export value this year from January to September was $528 million, which surpasses the total lumber shipment value of $509 million in 2010.
Major reasons west coast exports to China have risen include:
• Increasing Russian timber export tariffs (from 6.5% in 2006 to 20% in 2007; 25% in 2008 and 80% since 2009), which caused China to shift business to the U.S.
• Tightening timber export policy of the neighboring countries
• Decreasing U.S. domestic demand which leads to higher exporting supply
• Increased demand for timber resources in China owing to urbanization and domestic infrastructure