NZ log exports top 1M cubic metres in January, second-highest level ever for the month
By Tina Morrison
March 26 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand exported more than one million cubic metres of softwood logs in January, only the second time in the country's history that such a high volume has been shipped in the month.
The country exported 1.1 million cubic metres of softwood logs overseas in January this year, up 32 percent on January 2017, according to data from Global Trade Information Services published in AgriHQ's monthly forestry market report. That's the highest level for the month since 2014 and only the second time volumes have exceeded 1 million for a January month.
"New Zealand’s softwood log exports started 2018 with a bang," AgriHQ analyst Reece Brick said in his March report under the heading 'Flying start for log exports'. "The strong start to 2018 bodes well for the coming year, as January is historically the weakest month each year."
The large export volumes in January were partly down to the later timing of Chinese New Year, which moved some of the heavy pre-Chinese New Year trading into January rather than December. New Zealand log exports in January fell 31 percent from December levels ahead of Chinese New Year celebrations, which ran from mid-February through to early March. However, the generally high level of exports this past 12 months were also a factor in lifting January volumes, AgriHQ noted.
New Zealand cemented its position as China's top source of softwood logs last year, with its share of the market lifting to 36.3 percent from 34.7 percent. AgriHQ noted that New Zealand's strong presence in the Chinese log market continued in January, with imports of New Zealand logs jumping 43 percent from the same month a year earlier, and accounting for 40 percent of China's total log imports, significantly ahead of its closest rival Russia with a 21 percent share.
China's demand for softwood logs has increased after Asia's largest economy clamped down on harvesting its own forests and reduced tariffs on imported logs to meet demand in its local market.
"All eyes are focused on the direction that China takes after the Chinese New Year holidays," Brick said. "Activity was relatively dead over the past month, but port-level offtake in the past week or two has reportedly lifted more sharply than expected.
"There’s little to show there will be any deviation from what’s been witnessed over the past 12 months and the general sentiment is for small price increases over the next two months."
Forest products are New Zealand's third-largest commodity export group behind dairy and meat products.