Value of U.S. building material imports to Japan drops 4.3% in first seven months to US$529.7M, despite 14.2% rise in building material imports overall; housing starts increase 14% in August year-over-year

LOS ANGELES , November 7, 2011 () – The value of building material imports to Japan rose by 14.2% in the first seven months of 2011 to ¥662.7 billion (about US$8.61 billion at ¥77/US$). This is compared with ¥580.5 (approximately US$6.61 billion at ¥87.78/US$) in the same period last year, according to the latest data from the U.S. Commercial Service.

The value of building products imported from the U.S. in the seven-month period declined 4.3% to to ¥40.8 billion ($529.7 million at ¥77/US$), compared to ¥42.6 billion (US$553.2 million at ¥77/US$) in the first seven months of last year. The U.S. achieved a 6.2% share of the Japanese market in the first seven months.

Total imports to Japan of waferboard, OSB and particleboard rose by 44.1% in the first seven months, according to statistics supplied by the Japan Tariff Assn., to reach a value of ¥11.475 billion compared to ¥7.964 billion in 2010.

In the same period, volumes of joinery and lumber stud imports increased by 29.4% to reach a value of ¥62.231 billion against last year’s figure of ¥48.105 billion. Imports of plywood and laminated wood panels also increased, by 34.5%, from from last year’s figure of ¥88.767 billion to ¥119.385 billion.

Imports of waferboard, OSB and particleboard from the U.S. alone reached ¥27 million in the seven month period, up 1.2% from ¥26 million a year earlier, giving the U.S. a 0.2% market share.

Figures for plywood and laminated wood panels show a sharp increase in U.S. imports of 667.9% to ¥339 million, up from ¥44 million in the same period last year. The market share achieved by U.S. producers was stated as 0.3%.

Japanese imports of U.S. joinery and lumber studs fell by 7.6% in the first seven months from ¥1.531 billion in 2010 to ¥1.416 billion, giving the U.S. a 2.3% market share.

Housing starts

Data from the U.S. Commercial Service shows a 14.0% increase in housing starts in August over the same month last year to 81,986 units. Total starts for the first eight months of this year were 560,934 units a 7.4% increase from the same period in 2010.

The number of single family starts increased from 271,036 in the first eight months last year to 286,404, up 5.7%. In August alone, single family starts climbed 7.7% against the same month last year to 42,595 units according to data from Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport.

Row house starts increased by 12.0% from January to August, reaching 59,370 units from 53,021 in the same eight months of 2010. Against August 2010, starts in this category increased 30.3% to 8,822 units. Starts in multi-family dwellings rose by 8.5% in the first eight months from 198,362 to 215,160 units, while in August alone there was an increase of 19.3% over the same month last year to 30,596 units.

During August, 2x4 housing starts, which are not included in the total, were 16.4% higher than in August 2010 at 9,942 units. For the eight months to August this year, 2x4 starts were 10.9% higher at 65,761 units, up from 59,304 a year earlier.

Starts on prefabricated houses during August were up by 14.7% against the same month last year, reaching 12,669 units. In the eight months to August 2011, prefabricated housing starts were 6.2% higher than last year, climbing from 81,391 units to 86,438 units.

The primary sources of this article are reports issued in October by the U.S. Commercial Service, Osaka-Kobe, Japan.

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