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Newsprint imports collapse to record low

Thursday, 01 March 2018
By Print 21 Online Article

Imports of newsprint into Australia fell by a massive 27.6 percent to a new low of just 47 kilotons (kt) in 2017, as falling consumption hit a range of Printing & Communication paper imports.

Industry bible Pulp & Paper Edge says that while newsprint consumption has fallen dramatically over the last decade and imports have collapsed continuously, the figures from the past year are a new record low (see chart below).

‘2017 was something of an annus horribilus’: Tim Woods, MD IndustryEdge.

“Overall, Australia’s imports of Printing & Communication papers are declining continuously and with little prospect of the falls being arrested,” says Tim Woods, MD of market analyst IndustryEdge. “One way or another, falling imports are linked directly to falling consumption. 2018 is likely to see further declines, but they are unlikely to be as steep as those of 2017.”

Falling to 683.3 kt in 2017, imports of Printing & Communication papers, (including Newsprint) slumped a total of 10.6% compared to the prior year, falling to their lowest recorded level. Even removing the ever-declining influence of Newsprint sees imports of these grades decline by a still very large 9.0%.

Woods says the decline in imports was by no means across the board, and had different drivers across the grades.

“For the Uncoated Mechanical (UCM) grade, 2017 was a year of respite from large falls. An additional 15.2 kt (13.5%) of imports appears to have been substitution for more expensive grades of magazine, directory and brochure paper. That means since 2009, imports have declined an average of just 2.9% per annum, the smallest average decline of all of the grades.

“Due primarily to collapsing imports of A4 White copy paper, Uncoated Woodfree (UCWF) imports plunged 21.5% in 2017, and have declined 6.3% per annum since 2009. For importers, 2017 was something of an annus horribilus, with major importing nations confronted by a successful anti-dumping and countervailing measures case, a relatively challenging exchange rate and historic high pulp prices that the local competitor (Australian Paper) did not have to deal with.”

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