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Asian logs

Recent trends in prices for major species and grades for Asian logs, expressed in constant 1990 US$ terms per cubic meter, as reported by ITTO are shown in Figure 29. Also shown for comparison are nominal or 'current' prices independent of inflation. Prices are exporter prices, normally expressed as FOB port of origin. Prices are aggregated across major traded grades and countries of export within the Asia Pacific Region. Aggregation is also made across size and quality categories. A listing of species traded by country with average prices (US$/cum) and volume exported is contained in Appendix 24. Appendix 24 also includes a listing of Log grade categories as identified in Figure 29.

Figure 29. Price of Asian Logs, 1990-1995

Bold lines show prices in constant 1990 US$ per cubic meter (deflated by the G-5 MUV Index used by the World Bank for deriving real commodity prices). Normal lines show nominal price trends.

Balau (Shorea glauca)

Kasai (Pometia pinnata)

Meranti (Shorea spp.)

Mixed Logs from Papua New Guinea

Kapur (Dryobalanops spp.)

Keruing (Dipterocarpus spp.)

Nyatoh (Palaquium spp.)

Mixed Logs from Sarawak

Source: ITTO. 1996. Annual review and assessment of the world tropical timber situation 1995.

As shown in Figure 29, there is a vector of prices prevailing for export logs in Asia, differentiated by species and grade over time. Shorea spp. (Red Seraya, Balau, or Meranti) is the largest export by species reported by ITTO, followed by Dryobalanops spp. (Kapur) and Dipterocarpus spp. (Keruing). Asian logs generally experienced a sharp increase in late 1992 and into the first half of 1993. Overall, prices increased by as much as 300 percent during this period. For most species, however, the increase was somewhat short lived, with prices dropping back to near pre-mid 1992 levels by late 1994 and into 1995. Inflation had taken a bite from real prices, as distinguished between the dark (constant) and lighter (nominal) trends shown. The main exception to this pattern is the price for Balau (Shorea glauca) which largely maintained the higher price level in nominal terms but saw a small reduction in constant price due to inflation.

Shorea spp (Meranti), Dryobalanops spp. (Kapur) and Dipterocarpus spp. (Keruing) all reveal quite similar pricing trends. While price was at or near US$ 100/cum from mid-1990 through mid 1992 (as was Balau), price spikes in the last half of 1992 and early 1993 peaked at about US$ 350/cum to US$ 400/cum, thereafter falling back to about US$ 200/cum or less (constant) by late 1994. This is consistent for Balau as well, although the evident price spike did not occur in this case. Shorea spp. (Meranti) prices have declined the most, to about US$ 150/cum. Price for Kasai closely followed that for Meranti, reaching prices below US$ 150/cum after late 1994.

Figure 29 also illustrates the partial effect of grade sorting. Prices for mixed logs from both Papua New Guinea and Sarawak were lower in the mid-1990 to late 1992 period, closer to US$ 50/cum, about half the price for the sorted standard-fair grades shown. Price spikes did take place, but reached highs closer to US$ 200/cum rather that the US$ 300-350/cum for graded species. Price declines (in constant terms) have seen unsorted mix log price fall back to near US$ 100/cum through 1995.

The rapid spike in prices, together with the equally sharp drops (in most cases) undoubtedly led to disappointment in expectations regarding the future for export logs. While late 1995 prices are above those levels prevailing in 1990-92, much of the apparent gain has been given back, with the 1994-95 trend generally flat (Kasai, Balau, Keruing) to declining (Meranti, Kapur) at year end 1995.

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