BEDFORD, MA , March 11, 2014 (Viewpoint) -
Entering 2013, the biggest question for the boxboard market was whether producers would be able to withstand the disruption on the trade front that appeared to be imminent given the looming overbuild in Chinese boxboard capacity. However, the answer by the end of the year was that the onslaught was not quite as bad as feared. Bleached board backorders began to rise in the spring, following the closure of International Paper's smallest machine at their Augusta, Georgia, mill. Unmade orders continued to rise during the summer, and remained strong enough late in the year that most producers independently announced their intentions to raise SBS prices starting in March 2014.
One of the reasons for this is that exports were surprisingly strong during 2013. Exports of clay coated bleached board totaled about 900,000 tonnes in both 2010 and 2011, but fell to 800,000 tonnes in 2012. This decline was spread among most of the major markets, and expectations were that this trend would continue in 2013. However, as illustrated in the chart below, Mexico was the only major destination where exports declined during the year. Exports to the rest of Latin America, Canada, Europe, Asia and the rest of the world increased, pushing total exports up to 842,000 tonnes for the year.
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