The main driver for Canadian softwood lumber production is not domestic consumption, but rather exports— and exports to the US and China in particular. The COVID-19 recession is expected to cause exports to decline 3% in 2020. We do expect a sharp rebound in US demand, but the outlook for China is not as strong.
Exports to the US should remain strong as the country’s residential-construction markets have not been affected by the COVID-19 recession like other sectors of the economy. Moreover, we expect low interest rates, tremendous pent-up demand from a decade of underbuilding, and strong demographic tailwinds will all bolster US residential-construction markets in 2021.