Annual paper trade deficit hits new record: AUD2.381 billion year-ended April

Australia’s balance of trade in paper, paperboard, paper products and fibre supplies shot to a new annual record deficit of AUD2.381 billion over the year-ended April. Based on analysis of preliminary data from the ABS, the deficit is 13.3% higher than a year ago, with the annual deficit recording an eighth successive monthly record.

As the chart indicates, that the annual value of imports continues to rise at a faster rate than the value of exports.

Australia’s Balance of Trade in Paper, Paperboard, Paper Products and Fibre Supplies: Apr ’00 – Apr ’20 (AUDM pa)

Source: ABS

Underscoring the slow burn of the pandemic, the annual value of imports lifted 0.9% in April, compared with March, while for paper, paperboard and paper products, the rise was a more meagre 0.2%.

The monthly data – only available at an aggregate level for the preliminary releases* – shows the value of pulp and recovered fibre imports shot up 32% in April, while for the paper grades and products, the lift was 12%.

We are confident pulp imports, for the production of tissue in the main, increased substantially by volume in April. Pulp prices remain soft and Australia’s imports of recovered paper are negligible, so the only alternative is increased pulp imports.

But all that aside, the most significant factor in this virile deficit situation is that paper grade and product imports have increased in value on an annualised basis, almost every month over the last two years. Value at AUD3.380 billion over the year-ended April 2020, imports have never been more valuable.

More food for thought in these most interesting times.

* IndustryEdge data subscribers will receive full trade data details for April before 10th June.

 

This item first appeared in the May 2020 edition of Pulp & Paper Edge (Edition 178)

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