Trying to assess the magnitude of pulp closures in China
LONDON, Aug. 12, 2010 (RISI) - This week the Chinese government, following up on an announcement made on May 27 of this year, released a final list of 279 pulp and paper mills at which capacity is to be removed as part of its broader program of closing small, inefficient manufacturing operations across many industries that pose problems with respect to high levels of pollution or energy consumption.
The closure of small pulp and paper mills in China is, of course, an ongoing process. The government's 11th "Five-Year Plan" (2006-2010) outlined a schedule for closing the smallest and most polluting pulp and paper mills in China. The target for 2010 had been 430,000 tonnes of closures and we have been waiting to see what the new Five-Year Plan (which is being written at present) would require in 2011 and beyond. However, on May 27 the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) announced revisions to this year's targets for the paper industry (and 17 other industries as well), with the new target being the 4.3 million tonnes mentioned above.
The list released this week revises that target capacity closure figure to 4.65 million tonnes. The list also gives some indication of how much of the closed capacity is pulp capacity, which is an important issue this year in terms of China's demand for imported pulp. Unfortunately, an initial analysis of the list leaves important questions unanswered.