The 28 member states of the EU exported significantly less recovered paper to countries outside the European Union in the first half of the year. According to recently released figures from the EU statistical office Eurostat, "extra-EU trade" between January and June was off by 15 per cent, compared to the same period a year-earlier. The most important factors contributing to the decline were China's new trade regulations and the sharp reduction in the number of recovered paper import licences issued.
European exports to China fell by 2.6 million tonnes or just under 60 per cent, a rate well above the average decrease. Offsetting this trend to some degree, exports to other Asian countries and Turkey have risen sharply – but only to the point where some of these countries have decided to change their own regulations regarding recovered paper imports.
The tightened Chinese import regulations were a game changer, Wade Schuetzeberg of the paper exporter America Chung Nam (ACN) told attendees of a meeting organised by the Recycling Industries' Confederation (EuRIC) last week in Berlin. "The world of exporters is not what it once was," said ACN's executive director (European Region). With the industry facing its greatest challenge, the most important thing was to remove as much risk as possible from the transactions. Risk reduction included paying even more attention to recovered paper quality.