Sawlog prices trended upward throughout the world in the fourth quarter of 2013 and the Global Sawlog Price Index (GSPI) rose to $88.78 (USD) per cubic meter. This was the highest level in more than two years and the third highest price on record since the inception of the Index in 1995, reports the Wood Resource Quarterly (WRQ). In the fourth quarter of 2013 the GSPI was 5.4 percent higher year-over-year and 14 percent higher than the 10-year average.

Many of the price increases around the world during 2013 were the result of improved lumber prices in a number of key markets in the second half of the year and a substantially higher trade of logs worldwide, according to the report. Global shipments of softwood logs were up by as much as 17 percent from 2012, totaling more than 80 million cubic meters, based on estimates by Wood Resources International. This was the highest shipment of logs since 2007 when global trade reached an estimated 86 million m3. Of the 10 largest log-importing countries, China, Germany, Sweden, Finland and Canada increased import volumes the most year-over-year. It was only South Korea that reduced importation from 2012 to 2013.

On a regional basis, sawlog prices in the fourth quarter of 2013 did go up the most in North America and Europe year-over-year because of tighter log supply, while log prices retracted somewhat in Latin America and Oceania (in U.S. dollar terms). In local currencies, upward price movements the past year have been the highest in the Western U.S., Western Canada, Japan, Latvia and Sweden, with 2013 fourth quarter prices being between 8-18 percent higher than in the fourth quarter of 2012, according to WRQ.

Most of the listed countries are major lumber exporters and with improved consumption of lumber around the world in late 2013 demand for sawlogs did increase so sawmills have been forced to pay more for logs to be able to obtain sufficient supplies to feed their mills. This trend is likely to continue in 2014 with lumber markets improving in North America and Europe according to the report.

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