Russian sawmills exported a total of 2.27 million cubic meters in March, an increase of 6% from last year. In the first quarter, exports increased by 3% to 5.33 million cubic meters. Russian lumber exports are now in a clear increasing trend, says Jenny Wessung, CEO Woodstat. The collapse of the ruble is of course a major contributing factor, but to this we can add falling domestic consumption and new sawmills in Siberia. We expect a continued increase in exports over the next few years.
China dominates as a recipient of Russian lumber and deliveries in the first quarter increased by 28%, while exports to the former Russian republics decreased by 35%. An important question now is how the long term construction in China will develop and how that might impact the lumber consumption. The problem with unsold homes remains in small and medium-sized cities, while cities such as Beijing and Shanghai have seen a stable market and rising housing prices.
Deliveries to Europe remain at relatively low levels, but the trend is now increasing for the major importing countries; Germany, Finland and the Netherlands. Even in some other countries, we now see greater Russian volumes such as in Japan and South Korea.
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