US forest products in the global economy

The United States’ shares of global industrial roundwood production and derivative products have declined precipitously since the 1990s. We evaluate the extent of these declines compared with those of major producing countries from 1961 to 2013. We find that the US global share of industrial roundwood peaked at 28% in 1999 but by 2013 was at 17%, with the decline attributable to a combination of cyclical factors and long-run trends. Wood products output declines are linked to low construction levels, whereas paper’s decline is connected to the offshoring of US manufacturing and growth in electronic media. Prospects are for increased use of wood in construction as the housing market returns to long-run averages in the coming years. However, the paper sector is unlikely to recover to its 1990s levels of output, implying that it is unlikely that the United States will return to its historical highs in global market share of industrial roundwood production.

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