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China's timber imports jump in first half 2002

Timber Imports for First Half of 2002

According to the latest Customs data, China imported 12.19 million cubic metres of logs valued at US$1.06 billion during the first six months of the year, up 52.5% in volume terms and up 20.4% in value terms compared to the same period last year.

Imported sawnwood totalled 2.52 million cubic metres worth US$ 550 million during the first half of the year, up 39.3% in volume and 22% in value respectively over the same period last year.

Imported plywood came to 285,500 cubic metres valued at US$ 104 million, down by 28.4% in volume and 37.3% in value compared to the first half last year. Imported Veneer amounted to 110,100 cubic metres with down by almost half in volume and value.

First Half Timber Imports 2001 2002

Imports % Change
on 2001
000's cubic metres

Logs total 7992 52.5
Logs softwoods 3872 106.0
Sawnwood total 806.5 39.3
Sawn Softwood 289.5 95.2
Plywood 398.6 -28.4
Veneer 219.5 -49.5

In the first half of 2002 China's logs imports were mainly from Russia (7,544,000 cubic metres), Malaysia (837,000 cubic metres), New Zealand (673,000 cubic metres), Gabon ( 578,000 cubic metres), Papua New Guinea (531,000 cubic metres), which accounted for 83% of the total imports.

China's sawnwood imports were mainly from Indonesia ( 598,000 cubic metres), America (287,000 cubic metres), Russia (281,000 cubic metres), Thailand (262,700 cubic metres), and Malaysia (253,000 cubic metres), which made up 67% of the total imports.

Top 10 Suppliers of Logs First half 2002
(000's cubic metres)

Russia 7,544
Malaysia 837
New Zealand
Gabon 578
PNG 531
Liberia 453
Myanmar 343
Germany 283
Equatorial Guinea 174
Indonesia 147

Top 10 Suppliers of Sawnwood First half
2002 (000's cubic metres)

Indonesia 598
USA 287
Thailand 262
Malaysia 253
Myanmar 129
Canada 119
Germany 107
New Zealand 101
Brazil 56

China's imports of plywood and veneer were still mainly from tropical countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia. In the first half of 2002, China's plywood imports were mainly from Indonesia (204,000 cubic metres ) and Malaysia (48,000 cubic metres), which accounted for 88.4% of the total imported plywood in the first half of 2002.

China's veneer imports were from Malaysia (58,000 cubic metres), Cambodia ( 29,000 cubic metres), Papua New Guinea (8,000 cubic metres), Indonesia (4,000 cubic metres) and America (3,000 cubic metres). The top four countries accounted for 90% of the total imports.

The main characteristic in timber imports in the first half year of 2002 was as follows:

Firstly, imports of log and sawnwood continued to increase rapidly and their average price declined moderately. According to data in table 1, although imports of logs and sawnwood increased, average prices fell to US$87 per cubic metre for logs and US$218.5 per cubic metres for sawn down from US$109.9 per cubic metres and US$249.6 per cubic metres last year.

According to local analysts, the reasons for the increased imports were continued and rapid economic development and the scale of expansion in the construction sector especially with regard to the Four Major Projects started this year, namely the West-East natural gas transmission project, the West-East electricity transmission project, the South-North water diversion project and the Qinghai-Tibet railway project all of which resulted in further increasing demand for timber.

The main reason for drop in average timber prices was the increasing proportion of softwoods in total imports. For log and sawnwood imports softwoods accounted for 65.5% and 22.5% respectively, a year-on-year increase of 17% for logs and a 6.5% increase for sawnwood.

China's timber imports from Russia and New Zealand are increasing rapidly and the proportion of tropical timber in total imports fell. Imports of softwood timber from Russia and New Zealand reached 7,544,000 cubic metres and 673,000 cubic metres respectively, a year-on-year increase of 98% and 118.5%.

The proportion of softwood imports in total imports went up to 65.5% from 48.4% compared to the same period last year correspondingly the proportion of imported hardwoods went down to 34.5% from 51.6%.

Among hardwood imports, temperate hardwoods maintained the same level to that in the same period last year (about 800,000 cubic metres), of which imported Beech dominated the trade however a decline in beech imports to 336,000 cubic metres from 446,000 cubic metres over the same period last year.

Sawnwood imports continued to increase rapidly in the first half of the year and imports were dominated by hardwoods. Sawnwood imports increased by 39.3% over the same period last year, and softwood sawnwood imports almost doubled. While there was a big jump in sawn softwood imports its proportion in total sawnwood imports was only 22.5% while the balance was sawn hardwood. The proportion of hardwoods in total sawn wood imports fell by about 8 percentage compared to last year.

Finally, imports of plywood and veneer have been falling steadily. According to local analysts the main reason for this is the rapid development of domestic plywood and veneer production in China and not any falling demand. From evidence available China clearly has a comparative advantage in the manufacture of plywood and veneer.

Timber Imports in Xinjiang Autonomous Region Sky Rocket

According to the statistics from the Xinjiang Administration for Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine, imported timber in Xinjiang Autonomous Region amounted to 90,000 cubic meters in the first half of 2002, which nearly equaled to total imports in 2001.

According to sources in Xinjiang timber imports were mostly from the Commonwealth of Independent States and were mainly logs and sawnweood. Xinjiang's imports have been increasing steadily over the past few years and transport costs have reportedly come down and the exporters have been successful in applying wood treatment standards that meet China's new regulations

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