In 2019, Russia imported to Japan 109,860 m3 of logs, it was 11.8% less than 2018. Declining speed is accelerating. Red pine logs for lumber manufacturing increased but larch logs for plywood manufacturing decreased. Log import outlook for 2020 is shadowy as log export duty rate increases and harvest volume declines, as ITTO reported.
By species, whitewood logs increased by 9% but the volume was only 5,600 m3. Sawmills cutting whitewood logs in Japan are limited and the main material shifted from logs to genban so future looks unpromising.
Red pine logs increased by more than 50% as sawmills use more logs since genban’s supply and the quality are unstable. Log export duty on larch logs from the Far East Russia was 40% so the supply side was discouraged with dropping profit.
Japanese plywood mills are using more Russian made veneer and domestic species so plywood mills are losing interest in Russian larch logs. The duty is raised to 60% in 2020 so larch log export would decline further. Supply of high and medium grade red pine lumber was tight in 2019 but total volume was almost the same as 2018 due to increase of lower grade lumber.