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Japan remains world's largest importer of woodchips

The global trade of woodchips has grown year on year from 2000 to 2011, the Wood Resource Quarterly reports.

This is with the exception of 2009 when pulp production fell around 10% and the demand for wood fibre was down.

From 2009-2012 woodchip imports reached just over 31 million tonnes, a 6.5 million increase. According to the report, much of this can be attributed to major investments in pulp capacity in China and increased production of MDF in Turkey.

In terms of the major chip importing countries, Japan remains the largest, although volumes have dropped from 15 million tonnes in 2008 to 11 million tonnes in 2012. China is today the world's second largest importer.

Both Japan and China are the two key consumers of globally traded chips and in 2012 they imported 83% of the world's total imports of hardwood chips.

Finland is the third largest chip importer, sourcing much of its capacity from Russia and the Baltic States. The fourth largest chip importer is Turkey.

'It is likely that global trade of woodchips will continue to go up in the coming years for two main reasons: 1) there are limited forest resources in some of the countries which are expanding industry capacity, and 2) some forest companies are making the strategic decision to diversify their supply sources and import woodchips rather than procure marginal fibre supplies locally,' the report concludes.