Nikkei News reported on March 5 that Japan’s timber exports in 2018 exceeded 35 billion yen (about 2.1 billion yuan), the highest level in 41 years. Among them, exports to China increased by 9.3%, a substantial increase of 15.8 billion yen (about 950 million yuan).
In recent years, China has been the largest importer of Japanese logs, with imports increasing by 7.3 times in five years, but the proportion is relatively low.
The Nikkei pointed out that there are two reasons for China to increase timber imports: First, domestic demand for transportation packaging materials is strong, followed by the demand for US-made wooden fence exports to the United States.
According to data released by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan, total timber exports in Japan increased by 7.4% in 2018 to 35.07 billion yen. The last time this number was in 1977 (36.6 billion yen).
In terms of varieties, the export value of logs such as Chinese fir increased by 8.2% in 2018, reaching 14.8 billion yen, accounting for 42% of the total. Exports increased by 19.3% to 1.15 million cubic meters.
In recent years, China has been the largest buyer of Japanese timber. Japan’s total exports increased by 2.8 times in five years, of which exports to China increased by 4.6 times.
In 2017, 40% of Japan's timber exports entered the Chinese market. In 2018, China accounted for 45% of Japan's total exports, including 940,000 cubic meters of log exports, an increase of 22.2%, and a 7.3-fold increase in five years.
However, in terms of the total imported logs of 38.41 million cubic meters in China in 2017, the proportion of Japanese exports (about 770,000 cubic meters) is still low.
Logs in the harbor of Tokyo, Japan
The Nikkei believes that there are two reasons for the increase in Chinese log imports:
First of all, Japanese logs are moderately priced. For example, in the case of cedar logs, the export price is about 140 to 150 US dollars per cubic meter (including freight), which is 10 to 15 dollars higher than last year.
Since China has stopped commercial forest harvesting in 2015, the domestic market for wood raw materials is in short supply, and Japanese logs are multiplied by the trend of purchasing low-priced wood.
Secondly, the Japan Timber Export Promotion Association also introduced the growing demand for Chinese timber companies to process Japanese logs into wooden fences for export to the United States.
Japan's domestic export logs are mainly from the forests near the Kyushu economic circle, and the firs from here account for 80% of Japan's exports in 2017.
According to previous analysis, the scent of Japanese fir is more stimulating, and it is mostly black heart, large color difference, and many knots. Therefore, it is difficult for consumers to accept in the Chinese market, and it is mostly used as raw materials for luggage packaging, tray footing and so on.
In addition, according to the "Code for Design of Wood Structures" as the basic regulation of Chinese architecture, neither Japanese fir nor cypress