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US fibre exports shift from traditional markets

Paper and fibre exports from the US in 2020 were down 12.7% on 2019, according to the latest official data that also indicates exporters are seeking new markets.

The overall figures from the Census Bureau and the International Trade Commission reflect the continuing decline of exports with the 2020 total tonnage of 6 889 073 compared to 7 770 829 tonnes in 2019 and 8 210 154 tonnes in 2018.

Year-on-year comparisons for January 2021 and January 2020 reflect a significant shift in markets for US fibre exporters. India, Vietnam, Malaysia, Mexico and Thailand have seen the greatest increases in quantity terms.

The top 20 ‘growth countries’ accounted for nearly 75% of exports in January compared with a 44% share in 2020. Since 2016, these growth countries more than doubled their annual share – from a 21% share in 2016 to 47% in 2020. As a whole, they received 72% more US scrap exports in January 2021 while the total for the rest of the world was 54% down.

The greatest change is Brazil which received nearly 2 700% more US scrap paper exports in January 2021 compared to a year before. But perhaps the most particular increase is Malaysia to which US recovered paper shipments which surged from less than 25 000 tonnes in 2017 to nearly 350 000 tonnes in 2020 and were up 506% year-on-year in January.

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