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China becomes world's largest woodchip importer

The last five years has seen China's importation of woodchips soar as the nation's pulp and paper industry grows.

A lack of competitively priced wood fibre in China means the country's two largest pulp mills – Asia Pacific Resources International and Asia Pulp and Paper – are sourcing much of their wood fibre needs from across the water and this has resulted in a surge of woodchips being exported to China.

Woodchip import value in 2012 reached $1.3 billion (€900,000), up from $180 million 2008. The Wood Resource Quarterly predicts this figure could reach $1.5 billion this year. China became the world's largest hardwood chip importer in the second quarter of this year when it overtook Japan with 2.4 million m3 of chips.

The majority of these chips come from Australia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam, with Vietnam accounting for over half the total import volume. Other countries from Latin America as well as Malaysia and South Africa also supplied a small volume of biomass chips to China during 2012 and 2013.

Woodchip imports are expected to continue to grow as China plans to further expand its pulp manufacturing sector.