Russian timber exports see steep decline

5 June 2023
According to recent data from Roslesinforg, the Russian forest regulator, foreign sales of Russian timber experienced a further decline in the first quarter of this year, dropping by over 20 percent to 4.5 million cubic meters.

The drop is primarily attributed to the sanctions imposed by the European Union (EU) against Russia due to its military operation in Ukraine. Previously, the European Union had been a significant importer of Russian timber, making this decline particularly notable.

In 2021, timber exports to European countries, including various by-products like birch logs, plywood logs, and fuel chips, reached a value of approximately USD504 million, as reported by the Federal Customs Service of Russia. Finland accounted for over half of these exports, amounting to around USD374.5 million. Wood sales alone constituted nearly 20 percent of Russia’s total export shipments.

However, the situation changed significantly after July 10 when the European Union embargoed imports of almost all products from the Russian forest sector. Consequently, sales to European Union countries gradually diminished to zero. Moreover, during the first quarter of 2023, the United States, Japan, and South Korea also reduced their purchases of Russian wood products to approximately 271,600 cubic meters. Japan witnessed a significant decline in imports, with a decrease of 47.7 percent, while the United States and South Korea reduced their imports by 40.3 percent and 18.7 percent, respectively.

In summary, the latest data reveals a continued decline in foreign sales of Russian timber, mainly attributed to the EU sanctions imposed on Russia following its military operation in Ukraine. The EU had been a major market for Russian timber, but the embargo led to a complete halt in sales.

Additionally, other countries such as the United States, Japan, and South Korea also reduced their imports of Russian wood products during the first quarter of 2023. This ongoing decline in foreign sales poses challenges for Russia’s timber industry and its export sector as a whole.