Global trade of softwood lumber reached a 10-year high in 2015, with lumber prices trending downward in many key markets over the course of the year, reports the Wood Resource Quarterly.

A majority of the 20 largest softwood lumber-consuming countries in the world increased their importation of lumber in 2015, resulting in global trade reaching its highest level in ten years. The US imported 10% more lumber year-over-year and a number of countries in Europe also raised their consumption of imported lumber last year.

The US lumber market was a bright spot as compared to most other regions of the world in 2015. As a result of a healthy housing market, lumber consumption was up almost five percent as compared to 2014 and import volumes in 2015 were 10 percent higher than in the previous year. The strong domestic market and a weakening Asian market also resulted in less lumber being exported in 2015, as reported in the WRQ. Export shipments were down 9.7%, while imports were up 10% from 2014.

Lumber exports from Canada reached an eight-year high in 2015 when sawmills took advantage of the fairly strong US lumber market, which combined with the weak currency, allowed them to ship 9.2% more lumber to the US than in 2014. Shipments to China, on the other hand, fell over 13% to the lowest level since 2010.

Lumber prices in the Nordic countries have trended downward since early 2014, in US dollar terms, as the dollar has strengthened against both the Euro and the Swedish krona. From the five-year high in March 2014, prices in Sweden have fallen almost 30%.

From Wood Resources International: