March paper imports unaffected by pandemic

Imports of paper, paperboard and converted paper products to Australia were valued at AUD211.5M in March 2020, up 1.3% on a year earlier and 5.0% on February. Because of the time lag between orders, shipment and imports actually landing in Australia, the impact of COVID-19 was not evident in the March data.
 
Interestingly, imports from China – which saw its lockdowns and therefore shuttered industrial manufacturing well before the rest of the world – were relatively stable.
 
Imports of Paper, Board & Paper Products: Jan ‘17 – Mar ‘20 (AUDM)
Source: ABS
 
Rather than being linked to the pandemic, the long-term decline in the value of Printing & Communication paper grades continues, even as growth in the value of pre-converted imports was on trend.
 

AUDM

YE Mar ’19

YE Mar ’20

% Change

Newsprint

14.8

46.9

216.9

Printing & Communication

594.0

532.4

-10.4

Tissue

511.3

473.9

-7.3

Packaging & Industrial

371.7

361.4

-2.8

Other (inc. pre-converted)

1,457.4

1,511.8

3.7

Annual Imports (RHS)

2,949.1

2,926.5

-0.8

 
The value of imports of printed materials and tissue stood in defiance of the trend and continued to rise in March.
 
We now anticipate the major pandemic effects will not arise until May at the earliest, with some impacts expected through the whole September quarter according to importers.
 
This is an edited extract of an item that appeared in Pulp & Paper Edge (Edition 177) in mid-May 2020.

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