Chinese exports to the US reached a record 40 million board feet for the year until the end of May, while shipments heading in the other direction are expected to finish 2006 at about 21 million board feet.

Shipments from China started soaring in 2005, when 11 million board feet was recorded. This was up from just 2 million board feet in 2004.

Cedar is the most popular species imported into the US, accounting for about half of all Chinese volume. The wood is usually sold as fencing as a substitute for western red cedar, which has been in short supply during 2006.

Fir is the second top species coming into the US and is used in a variety of applications.

US exports to China are down 44% so far this year. Limited availability of incense cedar, coupled with strong alternative markets for the species, has slowed sales of the wood to China.

Many Chinese public projects using southern pine have now also come to an end.