Imports of sawn softwood up 681,331 but easing increase of 5.3% YoY

Imports of sawn softwood totaled 681,331 m3 for the year-ended January 2016, up 5.3% compared with the year-ended January 2015. However, year-end imports peaked at 736,479 m3 in July 2015 and have since trended down as monthly imports slipped. Despite recent appreciation of the Australian dollar, expectations must be that sawn softwood imports will continue to slow in coming months.

In January 2016, total imports of sawn softwood were 53,280 m3. A year earlier, as displayed in the chart below, they amounted to 68,078 m3, some 27.8% more than in the most recent month.


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January is by no means alone in being lower on a month-on-month basis. Imports in December 2015 slumped 31.9% compared with the prior year, for instance.

However, not all grades of sawn softwood are faring the same in what is a marked overall downturn. The table below shows the year-on-year imports and changes of the major grades of imported sawn softwood.

Grade YE Jan ‘15 YE Jan ‘16 % Change
Dressed, untreated 187,337 251,592 +34.3
Roughsawn, untreated 146,708 142,531 -2.8
Dressed, treated (Radiata pine) 62,486 52,329 -16.3
Dressed, untreated (Radiata pine) 61,316 57,127 -6.8


On the data, Untreated dressed sawn softwood (other than Radiata pine and Douglas Fir) appears to have been holding up imports over much of the last year. Examining this further, it is plain to see that imports of this grade have also peaked and are now trending down, relatively quickly, after its very rapid rise from mid-2014. This is displayed in the chart below.


To go straight to the dashboard and take a closer look at the data, click here.

Year-end imports of dressed sawn softwood peaked at 271,895 m3 in September 2015 and have subsequently declined 7.5% to 251,592 m3 year-end January 2016. In recent months, imports have been quite turbulent, including being very low in December 2015. 

Annualized imports of this major grade of sawn softwood imports will decline further in coming months, delivering the anticipated drag on total sawn softwood imports. How far imports will fall is by no means as clear.