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Paper imports plummet, down by 11% Aus, 13% NZ

Wednesday, 19 December 2018
By Wayne Robinson

Plummeting imports: printing and communications grade paper

Latest data from Pulp & Paper Edge reveals that printing and communication grade imports into both Australia and New Zealand fell by double digits in the year to October.

According to the Tim Woods authored report Australia’s imports of printing and communication papers, including Newsprint, combined to deliver a drop of 10.9 per cent over the year-ended October 2018, as imports fell to 616.6 kt for the year.

New Zealand’s imports of printing and communication papers declined an aggregate 13 per cent over the year-ended October, falling to 149,719 tonnes. This data is all the more important, because New Zealand’s supplies – with the exception of newsprint – are delivered entirely by imports.

In Australia, unsurprisingly, newsprint recorded the largest decline, with imports collapsing almost 64 per cent and totalling just 20.3 kt for the year.

However, the major surprise, is that the grades suffering the largest import declines are those made from chemical pulps (Uncoated Woodfree [UCWF] and Coated Woodfree [CWF]). This is exactly the opposite situation to that experienced in New Zealand over the same period.

By contrast, the grades made from mechanical pulp (Uncoated Mechanical [UCM] and Coated Mechanical [CM]) experienced increases over the year to the end of October.

Australia’s imports of Coated Woodfree (CWF) papers fell 22.2 per cent over the year-ended October, compared to the prior year. Imports totalled 156,708 tonnes, with the annualised outlook appearing more consistent, but inevitably, continuing to point down in a market that most consider is already lower than the import data suggests.

Three of the four major grades experienced sharp declines, with the largest falls recorded for Reels less than 150 gsm, imports of which collapsed by almost 50 per cent, to just 21,863 tonnes over the year.

Imports of the other two major grades declined by largely uniform proportions. Almost bizarrely, the smallest volume grade – Reels greater than 150 gsm – experienced a rise in imports of 28.7 per cent, but at 784 tonnes, it does not amount to anything much.

In New Zealand all grades experienced import declines, with the smallest falls recorded for Uncoated Woodfree (UCWF) paper, that includes A4 Copy Paper and related office products.

Coated Woodfree (CWF) grades experienced a modest decline, relative to the total. It is the grades containing mechanical pulp that experienced the largest fall in imports over the year-ended October. Uncoated Mechanical (UCM) and Newsprint were hardest hit, but the Coated Mechanical (CM) grade that is so linked to print advertising, fell at a rate greater than the average.

Go to the Pulp & Paper Edge website for the full report.

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