The value of the Finnish forest industry exports in the first half was up 1.6% and total production increased slightly from the corresponding period of 2013. However, European economic uncertainty is having an impact on the market for forest industry products, says the Finnish Forest Industries Federation (FFIF).
FFIF stresses that every effort must be made to ensure the competitiveness of the export sector in order to protect employment and prosperity. Moreover, the industry is seeking fresh growth from the bioeconomy, where major investments of EUR 1.5 billion have been made.
“Forest industry investments should be spurred with competitiveness-enhancing legislation and forward-looking industrial policies. All additional burdens imposed on the industry erode competitiveness when uncertainty is the prevailing sentiment on the markets and in the economy as whole. Taxes and red tape that target businesses must be kept in check while sufficient incentives for investments are put in place,” Director General Timo Jaatinen of the Finnish Forest Industries Federation emphasises.
Paper industry production volumes unchanged
In Finland, paper industry production in the first half of 2014 remained almost exactly level with the corresponding period of 2013. In total, 5.2 million tonnes of paper and paperboard were produced in January-June. The decline of graphic paper production has continued, but production of paperboard and some other paper grades, such as hygiene papers, grew. A total of 3.1 million tonnes of printing and writing paper was produced in January-June, 1.3% less than in the previous year.
Consumption of graphic paper continued to decline in Europe because of structural reasons, although the rate of decline has slowed when compared to recent years. Some 1.5 million tonnes of paperboard was produced in January-June, 0.5% more than in the corresponding period of 2013.
Finland produced 3.5 million tonnes of pulp in January-June. Even though production contracted, pulp exports increased more than five percent in the first half of 2014.
European economic uncertainty affects demand for sawn timber
Finland's sawn timber production totalled 5.7 million cubic metres in the first half of 2014, up 4% from the corresponding period of the previous year. Finnish sawn timber exports were very buoyant, growing almost 9% from last year.
Demand in the Asian markets, which performed strongly last year, evened out. Europe's uncertain economic situation had an eroding effect on sawn timber demand, while domestic demand was burdened by sluggish activity in the construction sector.
Plywood production in Finland came to about 600,000 cubic metres, up 9% from the previous year. The majority of this plywood is exported to Europe.
Timber sales stable in the first half of the year
Timber sales in Finland were livelier than in previous years in the early part of 2014, but the pace evened out in June. Timber procurements were up 4% from the corresponding period of 2013.
Finnish Forest Industries Federation member companies purchased 16.9 million cubic metres of timber from private forests in January-June. Sawlog purchases totalled 7.6 million cubic metres and pulpwood procurements came to 8.6 million cubic metres.