ACPWP98 - Trade Flows - Inter-relations in three regions

April 1998

FO:ACPWP 98/4(a)


ADVISORY COMMITTEE ON PAPER AND WOOD PRODUCTS

THIRTY-NINTH SESSION

Rome, 23 - 24 April 1998

FOREST PRODUCTS PRODUCTION AND TRADE FLOW TRENDS
Trends in Japanese imports of forest products


ABSTRACT

Japan is by far the largest importer of wood products in the world although it is not among the ten largest producers.

Japan is situated in Asia. However, its import share from Asian countries is only about 15 percent with the remainder imported world-wide.

Structural changes of forest product imports in Japan

Japan has been undergoing drastic changes in the structure of forest product imports in recent years. To be specific, the shift from logs to more value-added products is remarkable.

The most important reason for the shift is the structural changes in production in the producing countries brought about by the movement toward environmental protection on a global scale and sustainable forest management.

In Japan, in the meantime, the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995 triggered increasing needs for earthquake-proof houses, and demand for engineered wood such as laminated wood is growing fast.

Changes in exporting countries

During the period from 1992 to 1996, log imports into Japan were down 18 percent, while lumber imports were up 36 percent.

Primary reasons for the drop in log imports were the strengthened regulations for environmental protection and development of value-added products in the exporting countries. As a result, log-exporting countries varied, and imports of lumber and laminated wood, the latter in particular, from some countries are soaring.

Imports of plywood also increased. However, the share of exporting countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia has changed greatly. Also showing fast growth in imports are particle board and fibreboard.

In general, imports from countries which produce forest products using woods from plantations are rising.

Relations with Southeast Asian countries

Indonesia and Malaysia are the two largest exporters of wood products to Japan.

Indonesia began to restrict log exports in 1982 and totally banned them in 1985. Since then, their exports to Japan of plywood, and laminated wood in later years, have increased sharply. Indonesia is currently suffering an economic crisis and the government is being forced to change its policy. However, the effect of policy changes for wood products is unpredictable at the moment. Like Indonesia, Malaysia has been restricting log exports since mid-1980s and boosting exports of value-added products, although this varies depending on states.

Wood supply (million m3)

1990

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

Total domestic imports

29.4

28.0

27.2

25.6

24.5

22.9

22.5

22.4

Logs products

33.9

32.2

30.4

27.7

26.9

25.9

25.1

23.9

Lumber

12.6

12.9

12.4

14.4

14.6

16.0

16.2

16.5

Plywood

4.7

5.0

4.9

6.6

6.5

7.0

8.4

8.5

Chip and pulp

30.0

33.3

32.9

32.8

35.6

38.4

37.6

37.4

Others

0.7

0.8

0.8

1.2

1.4

1.8

2.5

2.8

Subtotal(A)

47.9

52.1

51.0

55.1

58.1

63.1

64.7

65.2

Total Import (B)

81.8

84.2

81.4

82.8

85.0

89.0

89.8

89.0

Grand total(C)

111.2

112.2

108.5

108.4

109.5

111.9

112.3

111.4

B / C (%)

73.6

75.0

75.0

76.4

77.6

79.5

80.0

79.9

A / B (%)

58.6

61.8

62.7

66.5

68.3

70.9

72.1

73.2

 

Source: Forestry Agency. Volume delivered at mills. All on solid wood basis.

Imports of logs and lumber (million m3)

Exporter

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

North America

USA Logs

8.5

7.7

7.4

7.1

6.9

Lumber

2.4

2.3

2.1

2.0

2.2

Canada Logs

0.7

0.5

0.3

0.2

0.1

Lumber

4.4

5.5

5.5

5.9

6.1

Subtotal Logs

9.3

8.2

7.6

7.3

7.0

Lumber

6.8

7.8

7.6

8.0

8.3

South Seas

Malaysia Logs

8.6

5.5

4.5

4.0

3.5

Lumber

0.7

0.7

0.6

0.7

0.5

Indonesia Logs

0

0

0

0

0

Lumber

0.4

0.5

0.5

0.5

0.5

Others Logs

1.5

2.2

2.4

2.1

2.2

Lumber

0.2

0.2

0.2

0.2

0.3

Subtotal Logs

10.1

7.7

6.9

6.1

5.7

Lumber

1.3

1.5

1.4

1.4

1.3

Russia Logs

4.2

5.0

4.8

5.4

5.4

Lumber

0.2

0.3

0.4

0.4

0.4

New Zealand Logs

1.9

1.7

1.9

1.9

2.1

Lumber

0.2

0.2

0.3

0.3

0.3

Others Logs

0.4

0.9

1.2

1.3

1.1

Lumber

0.5

0.9

1.1

1.7

2.0

Total Logs

25.9

23.4

22.4

21.9

21.3

Lumber

9.0

10.6

10.8

11.8

12.3

Lumber/(Logs+Lumber) %)

25.9

31.2

32.5

35.0

36.5

Source: Customs Clearance Statistics (Ministry of Finance).

Imports of laminated wood and wood panels

(1000 m3; 1000 tons for fibreboard)

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

Laminated wood

(1)

18

18

30

43

68

(2)

21

59

89

148

319

Wood panels

Plywood

2 985

4 087

4 045

4 394

5 314

Particle board

126

179

347

361

553

Fibre board

104

225

307

309

356

Notes: (1) is laminated lumber for fittings and (2) is structural laminated lumber

Source: Customs Clearance Statistics (Ministry of Finance)


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