Wood from Finland Conference in Helsinki
More than three hundred professionals from 25 countries within the sawn softwood, logistics and education sectors gathered together on the 13th of Feb 2019 in Helsinki to participate the 17th Wood from Finland conference.
The Conference was opened by the Minister of Education, Ms Sanni Grahn-Laasonen. She emphasized the importance of high quality education and equality in the foundation of competitive advantage. She mentioned that it is utmost important to anticipate the need of education as well as to implement it also within the fast changing operational environment of the sawmill industry.
Demand of sawn softwood increases globally – trade flows are changing
Mr Russel Taylor (Forest Economic Advisers, LLC) gave a presentation of the outlook of the sawn softwood trade and the positive impact of sawn products on mitigating the climate change. The market outlook as a whole is relatively positive but the trade flows are changing while the structure and balance of supply and demand are shifting. Mr. Taylor acknowledged the excellent reputation of Finnish mills in the Chinese market but expressed his concerns about the international competitiveness of Finns. The main factors burdening the competitiveness, according to Mr. Taylor, are the high raw material costs and challenges within the side product market which in turn weaken the renewing and investment ability of the Finnish mills. Mr Taylor encouraged the Finns to chart the possibilities in the U.S. market while demand is increasing and, Canadian supply grows scarcer.
The Chinese sawn softwood outlook is positive – long term thinking is needed
Ms Anna Ni (Senior Advisor, Business Finland, Shanghai) explained that the economic uncertainty, structural change within the industries and the weakening of the exchange rate have caused challenges for the Chinese sawn softwood customers and urged the Finnish mills for long-term actions since the demand outlook of sawn softwood in China is still positive.
The results of the Finnish Sawmills were reasonable – room for improvement in competitiveness
The output of Finnish sawmills increased by 1% in 2018 to 11,8 million cubic metres. Exports declined by seven percent to nine million cubic metres. The average price of exports increased by six percent. The three biggest export markets were Egypt, Japan and China. Exports to China shrank almost by 40% to slightly more than one million cubic metres from the record year 2017 but still reached the level reached in 2016
The domestic demand increased slightly since the long decline after the financial crisis. In 2018, sawn softwood was the sixth most important export article of Finland.
Finnish Sawmills Association
puh. 020 7790961