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International trade in logs and timber worth $50 billion in 2013


Logs in sawmill © Shutterstock

Prices for logs and timber have risen as the value of trade in both commodities in 2013 reached levels not seen since before the economic crash of 2008 © Shutterstock

21 January 2014 | Will Green

The total value of global trade in logs and softwood timber is estimated to have reached more than $50 billion (£30.3 billion) in 2013 – the highest level since before the economic crash of 2008 – with prices for both commodities rising.

According to Wood Resources International (WRI), which calculated the total from data for January to October, the US “continues to be the major destination for internationally-traded lumber” but countries in Asia imported twice as much timber in 2013 compared to five years ago.

WRI said: “There has been an unprecedented increase in demand for softwood lumber in Asia the past few years, with the three major importing countries, Japan, China and South Korea, together importing more than twice as much lumber in 2013 as compared to five years ago.”

Softwood timber is “by far the most commonly traded wood product worldwide” and the biggest increases in overseas trade have been from Canada to China and from Nordic countries to Japan.

Timber prices in Nordic countries at the end of 2013 rose 10 per cent year on year, according to WRI.

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