Good news for the sector: the UE27 tropical timber import value has never been so high in the last ten years.
In the first three months of 2022, the value of EU imports of tropical wood and wooden furniture reached a level. The value of imports amounted to US$1.05 billion in the first quarter, an increase of 22% compared to the same period in 2021. There was also a 16% increase over the last quarter of 2021, when trade was already at a notably high level for this time of year.
This increase in the value of European tropical timber imports in the first quarter of 2022 is largely due to higher CIF prices, due to continued high freight rates (especially for timber from Asia and South America) and severe shortages of construction materials including timber.
In terms of quantity, European imports of tropical wood and wooden furniture products increased by only 10% compared to the same period in 2021 to 479,000 tons, slightly less than in the first quarter of 2020 before the pandemic.
The strong rebound in EU economic activity after the pandemic-related downturn has been a major factor in supporting trade in tropical wood products in the first quarter of 2022. In addition, increased activity in key sectors such as furniture and construction, particularly in private sector renovation, maintenance, and improvement, has coincided with severe shortages in the supply of alternatives to tropical wood. These shortages have worsened since the start of the war in Ukraine in late February, when Ukraine, Russia and Belarus together account for the majority of European timber imports from outside the EU. The reduction in supplies from these countries opens up new opportunities in the EU market for certain tropical wood products, including plywood and decking for which Russian birch and larch products were important substitutes.
For further details, please refer to ITTO's Tropical Timber Market Report, 2nd half of May 2022 available here, in particular pages 19 and 20.