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White Papers

Can Imported Kraftliner Regain Its Share of China's Linerboard Market?

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White Paper

Guoming Lu and Min Xia, Fisher International

Over the past 15 years, China’s imports of kraftliner have experienced a V-shaped path, falling almost by half from their 2002 level and then rising again in the last two or three years. This study shows annual kraftliner imports from 2002 to 2018. The question is, will imports keep rising or, being just cyclical, will they fall back to their lower levels? This is an important question, for China’s market is now so big that rising imports could be a significant boon to producing countries, while falling imports could depress the markets of those producers. The answer lies in an understanding of the evolution of China’s linerboard market.

As in any new market, knowing the customers and incumbent competitors is critical information. Domestic containerboard producers can boast of being well-established with local customers, given their footprints and logistics, short delivery times, wide product ranges, and business flexibility.

New entrants have a lot to learn, e.g., who are the merchants, corrugators, and end-users, and what role does each play in containerboard procurement? How is containerboard distributed in China? And, for each segment, what are the product and service attributes necessary to attract customers without having to resort simply on price?

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