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New Zealand Now World’s Largest Softwood Supplier

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More than 20% of the world’s softwood log trade originates from New Zealand. In 2013, the country exported 57% of the country’s timber harvest and the value of the trade had tripled in five years, according to the Wood Resource Quarterly (WRQ), Seattle, Wash., USA. A majority of the log volumes were destined for China, but South Korea, India, and Japan were also sourcing logs from New Zealand last year. 

New Zealand has become the world’s largest exporter of softwood logs, with shipments in 2013 accounting for more than 20% of global trade, according to estimates by WRQ.. Russia and the U.S. ranked second and third as global log suppliers, each shipping about 15% 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 more than 16 million cubic meters, but the value of the logs has gone up even faster. The average value of exported logs reached a new record high in March of this year, which was double the value just four years ago, as reported by WRQ.

Despite the dramatic increase in saw logs leaving the country and the closures of a number of manufacturing facilities in New Zealand, domestic log consumption has not changed much during the past 10 years. In 2013, the forest industry consumed just slightly fewer logs than the 10-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, WRQ notes. In the 4Q/13, as much as 57% 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 significantly 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. 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 $2 billion dollars in 2013, WRQ says. 

More information  is available online. 


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