ITTO has published its tropical timber market report for the first half of May 2023.
One of the main topics was the interruption of the decline in US imports of tropical hardwood sawnwood. Imports of the latter rose for the first time in six months, gaining 11% in March, following a steady decline over the previous five months. Imports from Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire and Congo (Brazzaville) more than doubled compared to February volumes. Imports from our largest trading partner, Brazil, fell by 48% in March, and in the first quarter were 52% below last year's volumes. Imports from Indonesia, the other main trading partner, fell by 77% in the first quarter, despite a 49% rise in March.
Other topics include:
The encouragement by the Sarawak Timber Industry Development Corporation (STIDC) in Malaysia (formed following the FAO's recommendation to stimulate the expansion of timber industries in the state of Sarawak), to manufacture high value-added products and engineered wood from local plantation timber (panels, veneers, furniture, etc.). As part of the state's 2030 / post-Covid-19 development strategy, the STIDC stated that the timber industry had been identified as an important economic sector with the potential to generate export revenues of $8 billion a year;
In Indonesia, the impact of the new European Union Deforestation Regulation (EUDR). According to Muhammad Ichwan, Executive Director of the Independent Forest Monitoring Network (JPIK), the EUDR could boost the competitiveness of wood products from Indonesia. He believes that implementation of the directive could strengthen Indonesia's timber legality verification system (SVLK) as a more moderate market instrument. However, he also stated that the regulation could become an additional burden for timber companies;
In Brazil, still in the context of the new RDUE and the risks involved when it comes into force, the Brazilian Association of Furniture Industries (ABIMÓVEL) issued a reminder of the need to certify raw materials and production processes. While the use of certified wood from sustainably managed forests is already an obligation in the sector, when the regulation is implemented, exporters will have to present certificates proving the origin of the raw material, including GPS coordinates and guarantees of human rights, particularly those of indigenous populations. With over 20,000 species of indigenous wood in natural forests, Brazilian tropical woods play an important role in the furniture sector;
In northern India, plywood prices have risen, with manufacturers citing raw material supply and price problems. They have also decided to reduce production by shutting down mills two days a week to stimulate demand and drive up prices. Plywood mills now have to compete for raw materials with the new MDF and particleboard mills;
In Japan, a start-up company in Tanabe, Wakayama prefecture, is proposing to manage the forests of private owners. The company also encourages reforestation of unused land.
The drop in log imports to China in the first quarter of 2023: according to Chinese customs, these totaled 9.27 million cubic meters during this period, worth US$1.606 billion, down 7% in volume and 18% in value compared to the first quarter of 2022. In addition, the average price of imported logs was 173 US dollars per cubic meter, down 12% on the same period of 2022 ;
A brief review of the Interzum 2023 trade fair held in Cologne from May 9 to 12, 2023, where hardwood traders reported that the global market, after slowing dramatically in the second half of 2022, remained very subdued this year. Numerous references were made to economic uncertainty due to the war in Ukraine, extremely high energy costs, rising inflation leading in turn to higher interest rates, and consumers becoming increasingly cautious after two years of high spending immediately following factory closures ;
US wood furniture imports fall for the third consecutive month. Imports in March 2023, worth $1.402 billion, were 42% lower than in March 2022. Imports from the two main trading partners, China and Vietnam, both fell by over 20%. Imports from China have been particularly weak since the start of the year, with a 50% drop in the first quarter. With the exception of Canada, imports from all major trading partners fell by more than 10% in the first quarter, with total wood furniture imports down by 28%.