West Coast log and lumber exports rose sharply in 2013 as Asian demand for American logs increased, according to new research from the U.S. Forest Service.
The region’s lumber and log exports rose about 20 percent last year, with demand peaking in the fourth quarter.
Most of the West Coast logs shipped overseas are going to China — although Japan has upped its demand, as well. With limited forestlands of their own, these countries rely on the United States’ timber supply.
Oregon and Washington are by far the West Coast’s biggest log and lumber exporters — accounting for 80 percent of the region’s exports for those commodities.
Xiaoping Zhou is a research economist with the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Northwest Research Station. She said lumber exports have been on the rise since 2007 — but there are no guantees that trend line will continue.
“It all depends on the price of American lumber exports,” Zhou said.
The recession in the United States lowered the price of timber, and this made U.S. wood products more attractive to growing foreign markets, she said.
But as the U.S. economy bounces back, timber prices could go up. And that, Zhou said, could prompt Asian countries to source more of their logs and lumber from other countries like Russia and Brazil.