EUGENE (AP) – Exports have been one bright point for the struggling Western lumber industry as home-building remains stagnant.
Hakan Ekstrom of Seattle-based Wood Resources International tells the Register-Guard Newspaper of Eugene that lumber exports from the western U.S. to Asia were up 30 percent for the first four months of this year.
That’s giving a boost to some mills that sell overseas. But analysts say it’s a double-edged saw: Chinese buyers have mostly been buying raw logs rather than finished lumber, and that raises the costs of logs for mills that sell finished lumber domestically. Prices for finished lumber in the U.S. haven’t risen fast enough to cover the higher cost of logs for some of those mills.
Analysts say the Western lumber industry is slowly improving after bottoming out in 2009. Sawmills in 12 Western states produced 11.1 billion board feet of lumber last year, up 7 percent from 2009.