China’s economic slowdown is cutting down the number of logs exported from Pacific Northwest forests.
A new report from the U.S. Forest Service says 25 percent fewer logs were exported from Oregon, Washington, Northern California and Alaska during the first half of this year. That’s compared with the same period of 2011.
Forest Service research economist Xiaoping Zhou says China’s decreasing appetite for raw logs and milled lumber is a big reason for the drop.
“China’s economic slowdown has reduced that country’s demand for log and lumber imports,” Zhou said. “This is largely responsible for the overall decrease in West Coast exports.”
Zhou pointed to two key factors. China’s government strictly controls real estate development, which is not expanding at its recent rate. And the Chinese currency is rising in value – which decreases its buying power in the U.S.
“As a result, we may not see much of an increase in West Coast log and lumber exports to China for the next two to three quarters,” Zhou said.
The total value of log exports in the first half of this year totaled $461 million, a decrease of 32 percent. The total value of exported lumber dropped about 14 percent to $287 million.
Other highlights from the report, which Zhou compiled:
Log exports to China decreased by 38 percent compared to the first half of 2011, totaling 395 million board feet.
Log exports to South Korea also decreased, by 36 percent, to 95 million board feet.
Japan’s log market seems to be recovering, as exports in the first half of 2012 increased by 22 percent, to a total of 231 million board feet.
West Coast lumber exports to China decreased by 34 percent compared to the first half of 2011, totaling 147 million board feet.
Lumber exports to South Korea also decreased by 43 percent, to 4.3 million board feet.