After the Great Fire of 1911, the United States, Australia and New Zealand all began to export timber.
In 1913, the first logging lease was signed in New York state.
That year, the US logged 8% of the world’s timber, and Australia had logged 8.5%.
Today, we import just over 4% of what we import.
The US had a population of about 4.6 billion, and its share of global output was 9.5%, or about 1.6% of global GDP.
By the 1960s, we imported 2.6 million tonnes of timber a year.
This had a significant impact on Australia’s economy, which grew by an average of 4.5% annually between 1960 and 1975.
But the US timber export boom did not last.
During the 1970s and 1980s, Australia’s timber exports grew at a much slower rate, at about 3% per annum.
It was also hard for the industry to adjust to the changing economic climate, as Australia’s domestic markets were closed to imports in the late 1970s.
By 2000, it had become clear that the boom was over.
Today, about 10% of Australian industry is reliant on US imports.
While Australia has a much larger share of the global timber market than the United Kingdom, our trade deficit with the US has been much larger than the trade deficit between the United states and the UK.
For this reason, the timber industry is likely to struggle to keep up with the growing demand for timber in China, India, South Africa and elsewhere.
So what can we do about it?
We need to understand the dynamics of the timber trade and develop an alternative to the American system of timber sales, which allows the US to export large volumes of timber at low prices and in high volumes.
We also need to develop a new trade relationship between Australia and the US, in the hope that this can give Australia a better handle on how its timber exports can be managed in the future.
The timber trade is a complex issue, with no clear solution that will be mutually beneficial for all involved.
Australia needs to understand its trade relationship with the United State and find a way to manage its timber trade in a more effective way.