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Aug 15 / 2001

Western lumber production down 7.7% for first half of year

PORTLAND, Ore., Aug. 6, 2001 (press release) - Facing increased foreign competition and a weaker U.S. economy, Western lumber mills produced less lumber in the first half of 2001 compared to last year, according to Western Wood Products Association.

Preliminary figures compiled by WWPA indicate Western lumber production for the first six months of 2001 fell 7.7 percent to 8.5 billion board feet. Shipments were lower by 6.2 percent and orders were off 3.4 percent compared to last year.

Mills on the Oregon and Washington coasts accounted for 4.6 billion board feet of the Western total, down 2.7 percent from last year's six-month figure. Coast shipments fell 2.4 percent and new orders increased 1.4 percent year-to-date.

Production at Inland mills, covering eastern Oregon and Washington and the rest of the West, was off 11.8 percent for the year while shipments declined 9.6 percent and new orders dropped 7.6 percent.

The decrease in Western production reflects an estimated 1 percent drop in U.S. lumber consumption so far this year, according to preliminary figures. Although housing starts, the largest lumber use market, are up 0.6 percent in the first six months, most other lumber segments are below 2000 levels.

Additionally, Western producers are facing increased competition from foreign lumber manufacturers. Canadian lumber shipments to the U.S. in the first half of 2001 increased 2 percent over last year's six-month total and are up 30 percent in the second quarter since the expiration of the Softwood Lumber Agreement at the end March.

Non-Canadian lumber imports also have posted gains near 5 percent so far this year, led by a 31.3 percent increase in shipments from Europe.

Western Wood Products Association represents lumber manufacturers in the 12 Western states and Alaska. Based in Portland, WWPA compiles lumber industry statistics and provides business information services to mills. The Association also delivers quality standards and technical support services to the industry.



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