Following the publication of ITTO's bi-monthly tropical timber market report, we summarize here the main trends observed in tropical timber markets.
Without addressing the EU markets, this report makes a detailed point about the UK, where imports fell sharply during July and August following the strongest start to the year in terms of UK import value since before the 2008 financial crises.
The trend looks different in quantity terms. Import quantity of tropical wood and wood furniture into the UK in the opening eight months of this year was 337,000 tonnes, just 3% more than the same period last year. This shows that price inflation was the major factor behind the rise in UK import value in the first half of this year, driven both by historically high material and freight prices and extreme weakness of sterling against the US dollar.
For details, see pages 18 to 22.
Central and West Africa
The economic slowdown in China has started to affect FOB prices with prices for okoume, beli and some of the redwoods popular in China feeling downward pressure. On the other hand, producers report FOB prices for other species such as Ovangkol and Okan are stable.
Also in the news are Middle East markets where FOB prices are also trending lower as stocks in the region are above normal. The exception is iroko which is actively sought as an alternative for teak in some enduses.
Most sawmills in Cameroon are now back in operation but contract positions have weakened to around 1-2-months. Heavy rain is reported in some areas but this is not hampering work, in contrast with Gabon where rain continues to be heavy and disrupting transportation.
The stock of logs in the GSEZ is still very high. With business with India and China slow at present veneer mills in the zone are being ‘encouraged’ to buy these logs rather than from outside producers. The logs in the zone are reportedly being offered at a discount which has driven down the price suppliers outside of the zone can charge. The slow Indian and Chinese demand has forced millers to cut production by as much as 25%.
Many top markets for Vietnam such as the US and EU tended to reduce imports of wooden furniture from Vietnam due to the impact of rising inflation and tightened spending. Vietnamese imports from Africa in August 2022 reached the highest level. In the last months of each year demand in the domestic market for tropical hardwood often rises. Imports of logs and sawnwood from Africa are expected to continue to rise. Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea contributed up to 90% of the total import growth.
In Brazil, in a study by Embrapa Florestas (Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation-PR) in forest areas under sustainable forest management in the states of Acre and Mato Grosso in the Amazon Region more than 40 million commercial sized trees of the species Handroanthus serratifolius (yellow Ipe) and Handroanthus impetiginosus (purple Ipe) were mapped. The high incidence can be interpreted that Ipê trees are not at risk of extinction. The results will serve as inputs for the development of forest management regulations and evaluation of the risk of over harvesting.
In Peru, the Intercultural Program for the Training of Trainers in Community Forest Management, "Forest Guides", was implemented by SERFOR between 2020 and 202, recalling the ADEFAC project in Central Africa. The project results were announced recently: the region of Ucayali now has 33 indigenous trainers or Forest Guides capable of transferring knowledge on community forest management to communities so that they can efficiently manage forest resources.
For detailed news on international tropical timber markets, please refer to the ITTO Market Report for the second half of October.