In the first quarter of 2014, Swedish sawmills exported about 3 million cubic meters of sawn and planed lumber, 8.9% more than in the same quarter of last year. If in 2013 Sweden's exports have expanded to Asia, especially to Japan and China, and stagnated or decreased to Europe and Africa, a reversed trend can be noticed in the first quarter of 2014: shipments to fellow European countries in particular, and those to Africa are now driving up Swedish lumber deliveries.
Sweden's lumber exports distribution (by continent); Quarterly comparison in volume (m³)
Nearly two-thirds of the total amount has been delivered to European countries, with a quarterly rise of almost 12%. The driving force behind this development is unmistakably the UK. The country is already the main buyer of Swedish softwood lumber and has increased its imports by 19% in the first quarter. Denmark and the Netherlands, two other major European consumer countries, have also increased their imports significantly. Germany is currently the third largest purchaser of Swedish lumber, with a 3.3% yoy rise.
Swedish exports to Africa are also trending upwards (+17%), with Egypt leading as the main buyer. Egypt is now the second worldwide purchase country of Swedish lumber, overtaking Germany and Norway in the first quarter of this year. The other two major African customer countries are Algeria and Morocco, though with a quarterly decline in imports by 11%, and 14% respectively.
The Asian market has in contrast to Europe and Africa shrank in the first quarter. Exports were lower by almost 2%. The main cause is the declining Japanese market, with less imports by 11.6% on a yearly basis. Also exports to Saudi Arabia dropped by over 20% as compared to the first quarter of 2013. These two negative developments could not absorb very well the rapid growth in China.
Sweden's lumber exports distribution (by country); Quarterly change in percentage (Q1/2013 over Q1/2014)