Log exports from Washington, Oregon, northern California, and Alaska increased about nine percent in the third quarter of 2012, totaling 412 million board feet, according to the U.S. Forest Service's Pacific Northwest Research Station. At the same time, lumber exports decreased about eight percent to 186 million board feet, compared to the second quarter of this year.
"Sixty-two percent of West coast log exports went to China during the third quarter," said Xiaoping Zhou, a research economist with the station who compiled the data. "China increased its importation of West coast logs to over 257 million board feet, an increase of 30 percent from the second quarter of this year."
According to Zhou, although China's economy has slowed down during the last few quarters, the country will retain its dominant position in the West coast's log export market for the next few quarters--or, even, the next few years.
Other highlights from the third quarter of this year:
- The total value of exported logs increased by 12.5 percent, to $512 million;
- The total value of exported lumber declined by about 10 percent, to $133 million;
- China's lumber imports from the West coast in the third quarter decreased over 14 percent compared to the second quarter of 2012, while Canada's imports decreased about 8 percent and Japan's imports decreased about 3 percent.
The decrease in the West coast's softwood lumber exports is a result of China importing more lumber from British Columbia, Canada, according to Zhou. Last year as a whole, for example, China increased its softwood lumber imports from British Columbia by 62 percent, compared to 2010.
Zhou compiled the statistics using data from the U.S. International Trade Commission and Production, Prices, Employment, and Trade in Northwest Forest Industries, an annual station publication that provides current information on the region's lumber and plywood production as well as employment in forest industries.
The Pacific Northwest Research Station is headquartered in Portland, Oregon. It has 11 laboratories and centers located in Alaska, Oregon, and Washington and about 400 employees.