Expansion of China’s pulp manufacturing capacity in the last five years has resulted in a “dramatic increase” in the importation of wood chips to supply the new paper mills, and as a result, the nation became the largest importer of hardwood chips in the world in the second quarter of 2013, according to a market update by Wood Resource Quarterly.
The two pulp companies with the largest pulp mills in China, Asia Pacific Resources International and Asia Pulp and Paper, procured much of their wood fiber needs from sources abroad because of a lack of competitively priced wood fiber within the nation, the update said. Consequently, China surpassed Japan as the largest importer of hardwood chips in the world in the second quarter, with record imports of almost 2.4 million cubic meters of chips.
Australia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam were the major sources of wood chips in the second quarter, with Vietnam accounting for more than 50 percent of the imported supply, according to the report.
Furthermore, in the past five years, the import value for wood chips has increased, from $180 million in 2008 to $1.3 billion in 2012, and this year, the estimated import value could be close to $1.5 billion, WRQ said. The average cost of imported wood chips declined by almost 6 percent year-over-year in the second quarter, however.