Softwood imports rise to 775,000m3

Imports of sawn softwood rose above 750,000 m3 for the first time over the year-ended July 2018. At 775,491 m3, annualised imports rose for the ninth successive month and were 37.0% higher than over the prior year. Monthly imports in July totalled a record 80,378 m3, some 11.6% higher than in June.

There are plenty of questions about the imports right now. Although there is great interest in what specific products are being imported, the major interest is just when import growth will slow, let alone cease.

The chart below shows total imports, clearly displaying their rapid growth over the last year.


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

There are many import grades that make up total imports. Too many to analyse simply in the space available in Statistics Count. So, the chart below shows just the major grades (>15,000 m3 imports year-ended July).

In the main, the grades detailed here are the major structural grades. The 4407.11.10 grades are imports of dressed Radiata pine. The .30 and .31 imports are Treated and .32 and .40 imports are Untreated products. Over the year-ended July, combined, they lifted 32.2% on the prior year, to total 370,523 m3. The rise in those imports totals a little more than 90,000 m3, probably accounting for volume previously produced at the Morwell mill.

The other big lift has been in imports of Dressed coniferous excl. pinus radiata products (4407.12.10.13). Over the year-ended July they had risen to 124,868 m3, around 10,000 m3 per month. Previously, these imports were unidentifiable from pine products, but by any measure, they now represent a significant import line in their own right.


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

There is little doubt that the sharp rise in imports of sawn softwood are mainly structural grades. However, these products have not all grown, or grown equally. The biggest growth has been for Non-pine products that have not been treated, as the table below shows.


Structural Pine Imports YE Jul ‘17 YE Jul ‘18 % Change
4407.11.10.30 Treated 17330 15230 -12.1%
4407.11.10.31 Treated (Non-waterborne) 33432 47983 43.5%
4407.11.10.32 Untreated 68147 47972 -29.6%
4407.11.10.40 Non-Pine Untreated  161427 259338 60.7%

Imports of Dressed coniferous excl. pinus radiata sawnwood (4407.11.10.40) are the big movers of the last year, so it is worthwhile examining them on a country of origin basis.

The chart below shows imports of this grade, by country. 


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

The data shows that while there has been some increase in supply from Brazil, the bulk of the real increase has been supplied from European sources. Estonian supply rose 35.8% to 104,792 m3, with Swedish supply rising 133.7% to second place with imports totalling 35,890 m3.

Europe is supplying Australia’s structural sawnwood deficit right now.