According to official statistics from the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, the United States imported 10,178 cubic meters of softwood lumber from Russia in October. That’s about 4.3 million board feet. An amount that is almost 3x the volume imported in October of last year.

Line chart of US imports of softwood lumber from Russia in 2020 compared to 2019.

For the year, US softwood lumber imports from Russia are up 46.9% (as of the end of October). This acceleration is even more impressive considering that it follows five years of consistent growth.

Imports of softwood lumber from Russia grew 642% between 2015 and 2019. From just 7,405 m3 in 2015 to 54,947 m3 in 2019. Of course, it helps to start with a low base. The weakening Ruble versus the Dollar has also provided a tailwind for Russian imports into the US.

Line chart of US Dollar Russian Ruble exchange rate.

Based on these trends, it appears softwood lumber flowing into the US market will increasingly be of Russian origin. Watching the USD/RUB exchange rate will help identify indications of trend change.

Maybe more important, however, will be a potential ban of log exports from Russia by 2022. A log export ban would likely lower Russian softwood lumber prices. On the other hand, effective efforts to reduce significant amounts illegal logging and wood flows in Russia could support prices.

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