The US is increasingly dependent on overseas lumber supply as Canadian softwood lumber production continues to decline

STOCKHOLM, Jan. 18, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — During the first ten months of 2020, US importation of overseas softwood lumber was 39% higher than during the same period in 2019. By year-end, 2020’s import volume will likely be close to 4.7 million m3, the highest level in 15 years.

The importance of overseas lumber supply has increased in recent years as the supply from Canada has dwindled. Despite record-high lumber prices in the US in 2020, Canadian lumber shipments to its southern neighbor have fallen for the fourth consecutive year.  A reduction in the Annual Allowable Cut (AAC) in the province of British Columbia has reduced production volumes in that region by over a third in just five years.

The United States’ favorable market conditions have historically attracted lumber from overseas, with the all-time high being close to seven million m3 in 2005 (see chart). Europe has been the dominant provider of lumber from outside North America for much of the past two decades, a position that remained true during 2020.