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Wood, Paper, Printing

Pulp and paper: external dimension

Origami © Marco Rullkötter -

The EU is a net exporter of paper and paper articles, with a trade surplus of €11.5 billion in 2008. It is a net importer of pulp, with a trade deficit of €3.5 billion in the same year.

In 2007, the EU accounted for 21.3% of the world pulp production of 194.2 Mt. but remains a net importer, mostly from the Americas. 80% of the pulp imported into the EU comes from Brazil, the US, Canada and Chile. Pulp producers in the southern hemisphere are playing an ever-increasing role, due to lower material and labour costs, and this is leading to a situation in which the pulp and paper companies, including European ones, are investing in these countries.

For paper, the EU was the world's largest producer in 2007, providing 26% of the global total of 394 Mt. The main destinations for EU paper exports and paper articles are Russia, the US and Switzerland, which account for 12%, 10% and 9.5% of total EU27 exports respectively. Imports from Asia are developing rapidly, and in 2008 China became the third EU supplier for paper and paper articles, following Switzerland and the US. Imports from China have risen by 76% since 2005.

All pulp and paper tariffs on European markets were abolished in 2004. To service the EU's growing need for paper sector exports, it is vital to have sound access to markets. However, some third countries have persistently high tariffs and/or non-tariff barriers, which limit the access of EU pulp and paper to some foreign countries.

Major trade concerns in the EU paper industry include increasing supply costs for raw materials from certain sources (notably Russian hardwood, following tariff hikes in 2006), distortion of the competition resulting from subsidies to companies in third countries (e.g. fuel tax credits granted to US paper producers) and access to new markets. EU producers have also expressed an interest in extending the WTO sectoral agreement, which allowed elimination of pulp and paper duties for a number of members in 2004, to new countries and products.

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