Selective Cuttings

Leading global pulp and paper exporters

August 15, 2013

Following up on our summary of global wood product exporters, we’ve decided to update Canada’s pulp and paper (P&P) export position.

Top-10 exporting countries of pulp and paper products (codes 47 and 48 of the Harmonized System of the World Customs Organization) (2012)
Country Value
(C$ billion)
P&P share of country exports Country share of total P&P exports Largest P&P export
U.S.A. 25.3 1.6% 12.9% Office paper
Germany 23.2 2.9% 11.8% Office paper
Canada 15.2 3.3% 7.8% Kraft pulp
China 13.8 0.7% 7.1% Packaging
Sweden 13.3 7.7% 6.8% Office paper
Finland 11.5 15.7% 5.9% Office paper
France 8.2 1.5% 4.2% Office paper
Italy 7.6 1.5% 3.9% Office paper
Netherlands 7.4 1.1% 3.8% Kraft pulp
Brazil 6.7 2.7% 3.4% Kraft pulp

In 2012, Canada was the third largest exporter of pulp and paper products in the world, behind the U.S.A. and Germany, ahead of China. Pulp and paper contributes a similar share to exports in Canada and Germany, much higher than in the U.S. or China. In terms of contribution to national economy, though, Sweden and Finland stand out far from the rest, with 7.7% and 15.7% of total exports respectively. The top-10 pulp and paper exporters account for just over 2/3 of total exports (67.5%).

Finally, while firms in each of these countries export a range of pulp and paper products, a certain amount of specialization can be detected by looking at the largest pulp and paper export from each country: office paper is the dominant export in most of these countries, while three specialize in kraft pulp, and one (China) in packaging. It is worth singling out the Netherlands in this list. The Netherlands has very little domestic pulp and paper production of its own, but is a major transportation hub for pulp and paper products both into, and out of, Europe. As such it appears to have very high exports relative to population levels. This is an area where Canada and Germany diverge, with Canada being more oriented towards pulp exports, and Germany towards finished products (office paper).