Global trade of softwood lumber is forecasted to increase by almost 14% in 2016, driven by higher wood demand in China and the US, according to the Wood Resource Quarterly.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) reported in September that world trade will expand by only 1.7% in 2016, a downward revision from earlier this year and the slowest pace since the global financial crisis in 2009. This gloomy forecast cannot be extrapolated to the global trade of softwood lumber. Rather, global demand for lumber has increased in 2015 and 2016, resulting in a rise in trade by 10.2% in 2015, and Wood Resources International estimates that the increase will be as much as 13.6% in 2016. The major markets that have been driving this surge in trade are the US and China.

The slow and steady improvements in the US housing market in 2016 have resulted in both higher production domestically and an increase in lumber imports. During the first eight months of 2016, lumber production was up 3.6% as compared to the same period in 2015.

US lumber imports are up 31% so far this year and may reach an eight-year high of almost 40 million m3 in 2016. Prices for lumber surged in late 2015 and throughout 2016 as exemplified by prices for southern yellow pine, which jumped over 35% in 12 months.

Lumber exports from Sweden have remained practically unchanged in 2016 as compared to 2015 with total shipments likely to reach about 12.5 million m3 this year. Although the total export volumes have not changed much, the destinations have. Shipments to the key markets in the MENA region have declined, while more lumber has been shipped to Asian and European markets so far this year. Lumber export prices in Finland and Sweden continue to track each other, with average prices for Swedish softwood lumber being slightly higher than prices for Finnish exports.

From the American Journal Of Transportation: