In 2013-14, the value of Australian wood product exports increased by 23.7 per cent to AU$2.5 billion (US$ 2.1 billion), while the value of imports increased by 11.7 per cent to AU$4.6 billion (US$3.9 billion), according to the latest issue of Australian forest and wood products statistics released today by ABARES.

ABARES Executive Director Karen Schneider said the changes in the value of wood product imports and exports mean Australia’s trade deficit in wood products remains relatively unchanged at around AU$2.1 billion (US$ 1.8 billion).

“The increase in value of imports was mainly driven by growth in the value of miscellaneous forest product imports such as ‘Builders’ carpentry’ and ‘Mouldings’. The value of imported sawnwood, wood-based panels, pulp and paper also increased,” Ms Schneider said.

“The value of wood product exports grew strongly in 2013-14-primarily driven by an increase in the value of woodchip exports.”

Woodchips-historically Australia’s largest wood product export-showed signs of recovery in 2013-14 from relatively weak exports in 2012-13. The value of woodchip exports increased by 25.7 per cent to AU$767.7 million (US$660 million) in 2013-14.

Ms Schneider said paper and paperboard exports remained Australia’s highest wood product export valued at AU$852.5 million (US$ 733 million), accounting for 33.8 per cent of total wood product exports in 2013-14.

Also contributing to Australia’s strong export growth, the volume of roundwood exports reached a new high of 2.4 million cubic metres in 2013-14, valued at AU$292 million (US$ 251 million). China continues to be the primary destination for roundwood exports.

“Alongside increased wood product trade, there has also been an increase in employment numbers in the forestry sector,” Ms Schneider said.

“While total employment in the forestry sector declined from 76,500 in 2008-09 to 61,400 in 2012-13, it rebounded to 70,500 in 2013-14.”