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Japan Wood Market News (October)

Log and lumber Imports Down

Japan's imports of logs and lumber in the first half of this year have dropped sharply compared to the same period last year. Log imports totalled yen 98,726 million, 25.7% down on the same period of last year and lumber imports were down 17.4%.

Imports from Asia, were down 23.4% and imports from Europe, including Russia were down, is 16.5% less. North America barely maintained its two million cubic metre level due to an increase in hardwood imports to 310 M cubic metres. Imports from Oceania, which includes softwood of New Zealand and hardwood from PNG and the Solomon Islands, were also down. Lumber imports also showed a similar trend

Tropical Log Trade Trends

Log prices in Japan have been rising gradually because logs bought at higher FOB prices are arriving while, at the same time, the yen has weakened to almost 125. As usual, importers are trying to push prices higher and plywood mills are trying to resist this with tough negotiations.

The importers have proposed about yen 6,600-6,700 per koku CIF, based on actual cost but the market is only accepting a price of about yen 6,200-6,300 so there is about a yen 400 gap. The plywood mills' desirable price is about 6,000 yen, 10% lower than the importers' prices.

Plywood mills are anticipating a weaker market for plywood as softwood plywood prices have been softening again. Plywood mills have been trying to ride out the rough times by producing demand strong items such as concrete formboard for coating, floor base panels and thin plywood.

The market in late September showed some signs of firming. Sarawak Meranti regular was aboutyen 6,200-6,300 per koku CIF, while meranti small was yen 5,800-5,850 and super small meranti was yen 5,500. These prices are about yen 50-100 per koku higher than a month ago. PNG's taun and calophylum are about yen 5,400 per koku.

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