Japan's plywood imports reach highest level for four years in May, but fall back in June to 383,000 m3; many earthquake-damaged domestic mills are back in production

LOS ANGELES , September 7, 2011 () – Japan's total plywood supply, including imports, was 3,113,700 m3 in the first six months, up 9% from the same period last year, according to a report by the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO).

Quoting information from the Japan Lumber Journal, the ITTO reported that domestic production dropped by 14% in the same period, impacted by the earthquake and tsunami in March, while imports increased by 28%.

Plywood imports reached their highest volume for more than four years in May, but fell back in June to 383,000 m3 - up 38% from June 2010.

Imports of Malaysian plywood grew as producers increased exports to assist with efforts to rebuild after the quake. Mills in Indonesia did not increase production for Japan because of problems with log availability.

The plywood market was active until early may due to speculative trading on anticipated strong demand during the post-earthquake reconstruction. But once demand from areas affected by the quake was satisfied, the market weakened and prices for structural and concrete formboard panels softened.

Domestic plywood production was 198,900 m3 in June, down 17.4% from June 2010, but up 5.6% from May and the largest volume since the earthquake. Many damaged plywood mills restarted operations in July and domestic production is now expected to increase rapidly.

The primary source of this article is the International Tropical Timber Organization, Yokohama, Japan, on Aug. 31, 2011.

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