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Newsprint imports crash as exports soar

Friday, 18 May 2018
By Print 21 Online Article
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Norske Skog Boyer, Tasmania.

Imports of newsprint have plummeted by 70 percent from this time last year, according to industry bible Pulp and Paper Edge. At the same time, exports have jumped by almost half.

Newsprint imports totalled only 5348 tonnes for the March quarter of this year, a drop of 70 percent from the same quarter in 2017, and 34,680 tonnes for the year ending March, a drop of 47 percent from the previous year. Australia exported 51,154 tonnes in the same quarter, a 47 percent increase over this time last year, with a 59 percent increase for the year ending March 2018.

Tim Woods.

Writing in Pulp and Paper Edge, industry guru Tim Woods concludes this can only be a result of a drop in domestic consumption. “The clear implication of plunging imports and surging exports is that Australia’s domestic Newsprint consumption is continuing to fall and has fallen sharply over the last year. The only operating assumption we need to deploy for this analysis is that production has remained relatively stable.

“Imports are down by almost exactly 31,000 tonnes and exports are up by around 69,000 tonnes, implying consumption is down by almost exactly 100,000 tonnes,” he said.

The figures come not long after the rescue of bankrupt newsprint manufacturer Norske Skog by London-based investment firm Oceanwood Capital, which Wood hailed as good news for Norske Skog’s 2500 employees. “Norske Skog’s plan is clearly focused on continuing to operate, with its new capital structure and ownership in place. Regulatory approval is required, including from Australian and New Zealand regulators, but there would be no public utility in denying the company this future,” he wrote.

Though domestic consumption is down, Woods notes that strong export figures, particularly to India and China, are a bright spot for the local manufacturer. “Domestic sales may be preferred over exports, but diversity of customers may well be the difference between success and failure in a very challenging Newsprint market,” he said.

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