Many sawmills in Northern Europe have expanded their lumber sales outside the Europe market the past few years resulting in an increase in non-European exports from 27 percent of total exports in 2007 to 43 percent in 2012, reports the Wood Resource Quarterly. The biggest changes have been in shipments to Northern Africa, Middle East, Japan, China and the US.
Lumber exports from the Nordic countries have changed quite dramatically in recent years. The European market has become relatively less important than it has been in the past, according to the WRQ (woodprices.com). Just five years ago, sawmills in Finland and Sweden exported as much as 73 percent of their total export lumber volumes to countries within Europe. By 2012, this share had fallen to 57 percent.
Finnish sawmills currently export over 55 percent of their shipments to non-European markets, with Japan and Egypt having become the two largest markets in 2012, ahead of the traditional markets of the United Kingdom, France and Germany. During the first four months of 2013, Finland was the second largest softwood lumber supplier to Japan behind Canada, but ahead of Sweden, Russia and the US.
The MENA countries (Middle East and Northern Africa) have become a large and very important region for Swedish sawmills over the past ten years, with the export value increasing from 160 million dollars in 2002 to 730 million dollars in 2012. This region accounted for 28 percent of the total export volume (23 percent of the value) for Sweden in 2012. Even though demand for lumber has fallen during the first few months of 2013, the MENA countries will continue to be major buyers of wood products from Sweden in the future.
Another interesting development for shipments from Sweden is that although volumes are still relatively small, exports during the first four months to China were up 130 percent. Volumes shipped to the improved US wood market were more than four times higher this year than in the same period in 2012, as reported in the Wood Resource Quarterly. China and the US, the worlds two largest lumber-importing countries, are likely to increase the import volumes of softwood lumber from both Finland and Sweden in the coming years as the demand for wood products is expected to go up.
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