How does the global recession caused by the coronavirus affect the exports and prices of the Finnish forest industry?
For Finland, the most important export destination for sawn timber is Egypt, whose main export revenue comes from tourism and oil. Both are doing badly. The second is China: there, industrial production slowed sharply for a while, now the situation is apparently improving. In Japan, the situation has remained reasonable. In Britain, construction has apparently almost come to a halt but will reopen in May. In Saudi Arabia, the sharp fall in oil prices will reduce construction. In Germany and France, construction has fallen sharply. This is the situation in Finland’s main sawn timber exporting countries.
In many Central European countries, sawn timber production has also fallen sharply, but it is likely to recover there faster than construction. The situation is exacerbated by the bark beetle infestation, which is sure to hit the market. The Russian ruble has weakened sharply against the euro, the Swedish krona has also weakened, but less. Both countries are Finland’s key competitors in the sawn timber export market. Now they have a competitive advantage as the currency weakens.
For plywood, the situation is pretty much the same as for sawn timber. As for printing papers, the situation is bad. In most countries, people buy magazines from kiosks and shops. Due to the coronavirus Korona, reading magazines online is growing rapidly, and advertising is also moving online. The change is probably permanent.
In cartons, the situation varies from species to species. Demand for folding boxboard, which is made into fine packaging, will fall for a while, but will return to normal reasonably quickly. Demand for corrugated board will increase slightly as e-commerce becomes more common. The change will remain permanent as we learn to buy more and more products online. Demand for liquid packaging boards will remain unchanged.
Demand for tissue paper is growing steadily. The change is not big, but still positive. Paper handkerchiefs really become disposable and handkerchiefs made of fabrics disappear. At the same time, the hand dryers that spread bacteria and viruses in restaurants will disappear. Presumably, dishcloths will also be replaced with paper, dishcloths are disgusting bacterial nests. People want to protect their own health and the health of their loved ones.
Cellulose is an intermediate product of papers and board. Its demand is important for the Finnisf forest owners. Not only as pulpwood, but also because about 35% of the subsidies end up in the chemical forest industry as a by-product after sawing. Demand for cellulose had already recovered before the interest rate crisis, but now it is also likely to falter for a while.
Finland also produces soluble pulp, which is used to make viscose and viscose clothing. China is the largest producer of viscose, and demand for soluble pulp has temporarily declined.
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