Value of U.S. building materials imports to Japan drops 3.2% in year to August to US$601.31M, but total import value climbs 14.4%; September housing starts drop 10.8% year-over-year to 64,206 units

LOS ANGELES , December 5, 2011 () – In the eight months to August 2011, the value of total building materials imports to Japan rose by 14.4% to ¥763.2 billion (about US$9.91 billion at ¥77.0/US$), compared with ¥667.0 billion (about US$7.6B at ¥87.78/US$) in the same period of 2010, according to data issued in November by the U.S. Commercial Service.

Total imports of waferboard, OSB and particleboard increased by 42.9% in value from ¥9.270 million between January and August last year to ¥13.245 million in the first eight months of 2011, according to statistics supplied by the Japan Tariff Assn.

The value of imported joinery and lumber studs increased 27.4% from ¥56.694 million to 72.250 million, and imports of plywood and laminated wood panels rose by 33.6% in value from ¥102.712 million to ¥137.204 million.

The value of building product imports from the U.S. fell by 3.2% in the eight-month period to ¥46.3 billion ($601.31million), from ¥47.8 billion ($544.94 million) in the same period last year. The U.S.’s market share is 6.1%.

U.S. imports of waferboard, OSB and particleboard increased by 14.5% in value year-over-year from ¥27 million to ¥31 million, giving the U.S. a 0.2% market share.

U.S. imports of plywood and laminated wood panels increased approximately 398% from ¥69 million to ¥342 million in the year to end-August. In this category, the U.S. has a market share of 0.2%.

The value of U.S. imports of joinery and lumber studs dropped 6.8% in the period, from ¥1.773 billion to ¥1.652 billion, giving the U.S. a 2.3% market share.

Housing starts

Housing starts in September were recorded at a total of 64,206 units, 10.8% lower than in September 2010. For the first nine months of 2011, total starts were 625,140 units compared with 594,381 units in 2010 – an increase of 5.2%.

Data from Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport recorded a 7.5% reduction in the number of single-family units started in September to 34,803, compared to last September. For the first nine months, starts in this category are 4.1% higher than in 2010, climbing from 308,654 to 321,207.

The number of row houses fell by 26.8% in September to 4,919; but increased by 7.6% in the first nine months from 59,742 to 64,289. Multifamily dwellings decreased 11.5% in September to 24,484; but were up 6% in the first nine months from 225,985 in 2010 to 239,644 units.

2x4 housing starts, which are not included in the total, were down 23.3% in September at 6,707 units, while prefabricated starts fell by 17.8% to 8,520 units. In the first nine months, 2x4 starts climbed 6.5% from 68,053 in 2010 to 72,468 units; and prefabricated starts rose by 3.5% from 91,758 in 2010 to 94,958 units.

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

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