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Market News In Japan

Report From Japan
Tropical Log Prices

The cost of tropical logs remains high and importers are actively pushing plymills to accept higher prices but this is meeting with stiff resistance because the recent growth in demand for plywood seems to have eased in the past two weeks. Also helping to ease the price pressure is the fact that log production in Sarawak is gradually recovering as weather conditions ease. Buyers are reported to be adopting a wait and see attitude and are hoping FOB prices settle down.

Log market in Japan in late August was flat with little change. Sarawak meranti regular was yen 6,150-6,200 per koku CIF, yen 50 higher than a month ago. In the absense of continued growth in demand importers have found it difficult to achieve better prices from the Japanese mills.

The Japanese trade is saying that, at present, there seems to be wider gap in attitude between the mills in Japan and the importers. The cost of future log arrivals looks as if it will continue toi be high but the plywood mills are reluctant to accept higher prices as they are nervous about a possible fall in plywood prices. Meranti small prices are yen 5,700-5,800 and super small are at yen 5,400. PNG's taun and calophyllum for plywood are yen 5,400, also yen 100 higher on July levels.

Imports of tropical logs in the first half of this year totalled 853,439 cubic metres, 27.4% less than the same period of last year. Imports from Sarawak were down 14% to 605,304 cubic metres and imports from PNG totalled 162,636, down 36%.

July Housing Starts

Housing starts in July totalled 96,245 units, 6.7% less than in the same month a year ago. Total starts for the first seven months of 2002 were 661,710 units, 0.3% less than the same period last year.

In July starts, wooden housing units totalled 44,749, giving a seven month total of 661,710 units. 4.5% lower than last year. Condominium starts had been active but they dropped down markedly in July which dragged total starts down.

More Living Space

According to the China News, the living space per person in China continues to expand. Back in 1978, per person living space in urban areas was 7 square metres, this grew to 16.2 square metres in 1995 then to 21 square metres in 2001. In rural areas, it was 21.8 square metres in 1995 and 25 square metres in 2001.

According to government officials, back in 1978, there was a serious housing shortage in urban areas and only about half of households were privately owned. With government measures to promote housing construction and to encourage financing for housing more individuals own their home.

Tropical Log and Lumber Prices

Logs For Plywood Manufacturing
CIF Price Yen per Koku
Meranti (Hill, Sarawak)
Medium Mixed 6,100
Meranti (Hill, Sarawak)STD Mixed
Meranti (Hill, Sarawak)
Small Lot
(SM60%, SSM40%) 5,400
Taun, Calophyllum (PNG)
and others 5,400

Mix Light Hardwood
(PNG G3-G5 grade) 4,700
Okoume (Gabon) 6,800
Keruing (Sarawak)
Medium MQ & up 6,900
Kapur (Sarawak) Medium
MQ & up 6,400

Logs For Sawmilling FOB Price Yen per
Melapi (Sarawak)
Select 8,800
Agathis (Sarawak)
Select 8,600

Lumber    FOB Price Yen per Cu.m
White Seraya (Sabah)
24x150mm, 4m 1st grade 113,000
Mixed Seraya 24x48mm,
1.8 - 4m, S2S 42,000
Source:ITTO News

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