The total value of imported softwood logs and lumber has fallen 25% and import prices have declined almost 30% in the past 12 months.

China imported softwood logs and lumber valued at US$498m during November 2015. This was 26% lower than the same month in 2014 and the third lowest monthly level in three years.

As recently as April 2014, the import value was at an all-time high of almost US$900m, says WRQ.

The reduced demand for both overseas and domestic wood products in 2015 has been a consequence of the slowdown in the Chinese economy, which has not only reduced construction activities but also consumer spending on home remodeling and furniture.

Not only have log and lumber imports plummeted in the past year, but so has the price paid for imported products. In November 2015, the average costs of imported softwood logs were down 30% from their peak in April of 2014 to reach their lowest level since early 2009.

The biggest price drops during 2015 were for logs from New Zealand, Australia and Russia. According to the WRQ domestic log prices have fallen much less than import prices during 2015, with Chinese fir sawlog prices declining less than 6% from Q1, 2015 to Q4, 2015.

Lumber import prices to China have also fallen during 2014 and 2015, but the decline has been slightly lower than for that of logs. In November of 2015, average lumber import prices were 27% lower than their peak in September 2014.

The biggest price declines have been for lumber imported from Canada, Sweden, Chile and Russia, while the price fall for hemlock and Douglas-fir from the US has been quite moderate.