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West coast log, lumber exports in first 9 months of 2011 surpass 2010 totals

PORTLAND, Ore. November 21, 2011. Log and lumber exports from Washington, Oregon, northern California, and Alaska in the first three quarters of 2011 already surpass the total exports of 2010 according to the U.S. Forest Service's Pacific Northwest (PNW) Research Station.

"The increasing shipments to China are the main driver of the hike in log and lumber exports from the west coast," says Xiaoping Zhou, a research economist with the station. "The log exports to China in 2010 (664.2 million board feet) was over 40 times of that in 2005 (15.8 million board feet). The lumber exports to China during the same period expanded 76 percent from 98.5 million board feet in 2005 to 173.5 million board feet in 2010. And this trend continues in 2011." [Note: see table 1.]

The total log shipment value in the first 9 months of 2011 was $1,036 million compared to $844 million total in 2010. The lumber export value this year from January to September was $528 million, which surpasses the total lumber shipment value of $509 million in 2010.

Zhou compiled the statistics from the U.S. International Trade Commission and Production, Prices, Employment, and Trade in Northwest Forest Industries, a station publication that provides current information on the region's lumber and plywood production prices as well as employment in forest industries. The 2010 report is available online at

Major reasons west coast exports to China have risen include:

  1. Increasing Russian timber export tariffs (from 6.5 percent in 2006 to 20 percent in 2007; 25 percent in 2008 and 80 percent since 2009), which caused China to shift business to the U.S.
  2. Tightening timber export policy of the neighboring countries
  3. Decreasing U.S. domestic demand which leads to higher exporting supply
  4. Increased demand for timber resources in China owing to urbanization and domestic infrastructure
(Source: Research Center for Economics and Trade in Forest Products of the State Forestry Administration.)

Other highlights from this year's third quarter (log exports):

A total of 560.1 million board feet of logs was exported (valued at $347.9 million) from Washington, Oregon, northern California, and Alaska in the third quarter of 2011 (July through September). This was 2.6 percent lower than the second quarter log exports.

About 99 percent (or 558.1 million board feet) of export logs was softwood (down from 569.2 million board feet in the second quarter of 2011).

Softwood exports increased 27 percent from the same quarter in 2010.

Over 97 percent of west coast log exports was shipped to China, Japan, and South Korea (354.9 million board feet or 62.9 percent of the third quarter 2011 log exports went to China, 123.0 million board feet or 21.8 percent went to Japan, and 72.5 million board feet or 12.9 percent went to South Korea). [Note: see pie chart a.]

About 46 percent of the logs were exported from Oregon and 31 percent from Washington. [Note: see table 2.]

Other highlights from this year's third quarter (lumber):

A total of 255.3 million board feet with a shipment value of $174.4 million was exported from Washington, Oregon, and northern California in the third quarter of 2011, representing a 6 percent decrease.

Softwood lumber exports totaled 87 percent or 221.8 million board.

Third quarter softwood lumber exports were down 4.5 percent from 232.2 million board feet in the second quarter of 2011, but are up 43 percent compared to the same quarter of 2010.

Over 81 percent of west coast lumber exports went to China, Canada, and Japan in the third quarter of 2011.

Some 115.2 million board feet or 45.1 percent of the third quarter 2011 west coast lumber exports went to China, 50.3 million board feet or 19.7 percent went to Canada, and 42.6 million board feet or 16.7 percent went to Japan [Note: see pie chart b].

About 71 percent of the lumber was exported from Washington, 22 percent from California, and 7 percent from Oregon.


Contact: Sherri Richardson Dodge
USDA Forest Service - Pacific Northwest Research Station

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