According to a market report from Wood Resource Quarterly, the global trade in softwood lumber has slowed late in 2019 but remains on pace to be higher than in 2018.
According to the report, Russia has surpassed Canada to become the world's largest exporter of softwood lumber, and is on track to ship almost 32 million m3 of lumber in 2019 (23 per cent of globally traded lumber this year). Despite slowing economies in North America, Europe and Asia, lumber imports to these markets were higher in 2019 than in 2018.
Volume traded during the first nine months of 2019 represented the second lowest y-o-y increase for the period in eight years, according to the WRQ. Of the world's ten leading exporting countries, Russia, Belarus, Germany and Finland have boosted their lumber sales the most this year.
According to the report, lumber production has fallen in both the US and Canada in 2019 because of disappointingly low activity in the US housing market and meager demand for North American lumber in overseas markets.
From January to September in 2019, lumber exports from Canada were down 5 per cent y-o-y, while US shipments fell as much as 23 per cent.
All the major lumber-producing companies in British Columbia have taken downtime this fall, causing production to plummet 19 per cent in 2019.
Prices for softwood lumber were quite stable during the summer and fall in three of the four major lumber-producing regions of North America. Only in the US Northwest, where log supply has been tight and demand for lumber along the US west coast has stayed healthy, did lumber prices move up from their lower prices early in the year.