Europe needs to manage without Russian sawnwood imports

The news reporting from Ukraine is a daily reminder that we are living in a new Europe, where a sovereign nation is being invaded and defenceless civilians are deliberately targeted. It is a disrupted landscape, where both citizens, politicians and industries must find new ways to navigate. 

The Swedish Forest Industries is following the developments closely, particularly as it relates to the forest-based industry. Today we are publishing a new analysis (only available in Swedish) about the effects of the war on sawnwood in Europe and Sweden. It shows that the competition will intensify as European buyers, previously importing from Russia, start looking for new suppliers.

Russia is the world’s largest sawnwood exporter. In the wake of sanctions and trade restrictions, imports to Europe are forecasted to decrease by about 10 million cubic meters yearly, corresponding to about 10 percent of European consumption. Due to cancelled contracts and disrupted trade patterns, uncertainty among consumers has grow.

However, European net exports of sawnwood are twice as high as the imports from Russia. Depending on the competition on the world market, it might still be possible for the European market to stabilize by this autumn. That requires reliable logistics – an uncertain prospect considering the current disruptions in both land and sea transport.

Long-term prospects are also worth considering. The global sawnwood market has long been expected to rely on Russian production to meet its growing needs for sustainable building materials - which now appears risky. There is every reason for Europe to re-evaluate how it will supply the global and the internal market with renewable wood-based products. Not only today, but also over the next ten years.

Viveka Beckeman, Director General for the Swedish Forest Industries Federation