ITTO has published its tropical timber market report for the first half of June 2023.
One of the main topics is the decline in the value of imports of tropical wood products into the UK by -45% in the first four months of this year (to $314 million) compared to the same period last year. This drop in UK imports of tropical woods and wooden furniture products is part of a more general market downturn. The total value of UK imports of all timber and wooden furniture products from all regions in the first four months of 2023 was -29% lower than the same period in 2022.
Other topics include:
The increase in US imports of tropical hardwoods and related products in April for the second consecutive month. Imports of tropical hardwoods, hardwood plywood, wooden furniture and tropical hardwood veneer all rose by between 9% and 15% in April. But for the first four months of the year, these imports are considerably below the 2022 figures. The trend is upward, but there's still a long way to go.
Central African forestry officials examine certification in Gabon. The Central African Republic's Minister of Forests recently visited Gabon with forestry officials to study the organization of due diligence and certification processes in the forestry sector. The study focused on the control of logging and the transport of timber from sawmills to port. Seven companies in the timber sector, one of which is a Wagner Group company, have asked the Gabon Forestry Department for help in certifying and organizing forestry operations to support sustainable forest management.
Rejection of trade discrimination by Indonesia's Minister for the Coordination of Economic Affairs, Airlangga Hartarto. The latter recently met with President Joko Widodo to present the results of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) meeting. Airlangga Hartarto highlighted a number of regulations in force in other countries that he felt were detrimental to Indonesia. In particular, he pointed out that the European Union's new regulation on deforestation (EUDR) would be detrimental to Indonesia, as its implementation would not allow time to adapt: "if, within 18 months, Indonesia does not comply with the EUDR, a large part of trade relations with Europe will be interrupted". Minister Hartarto categorically rejects the discrimination exercised by trading partner countries under the EUDR and the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM, a policy tool introduced by the EU which requires EU iron and steel importers to be subject to additional obligations).
Concern expressed by the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) about the government's stance on ensuring a favorable business environment for manufacturers. According to AGI, the business environment in Ghana is very difficult, making Ghana the only country in West Africa where industry pays higher electricity tariffs than households. AGI Ashanti Regional President Kwasi Nyamekye lamented that continued increases in tariffs and regulations could lead to business closures and job losses. He warned that unless the government recognizes the current challenges and acts accordingly, local industries could find it difficult to compete favorably with their African competitors in the AfCTA (African Continental Free Trade Area).
Research carried out by the Brazilian Agricultural Research Corporation (Embrapa) shows that bio-extraction using the leaves of the pau-de-balsa tree (Ochroma pyramidale), native to the Amazon, could be a viable and sustainable alternative to mercury in gold recovery. A new phase of research will investigate which bio-extractor formulations can be competitive with mercury. The study will be coordinated by Embrapa Forests, in the state of Paraná, in partnership with other research institutions.
Japan's revision of the law promoting the use and distribution of legally harvested wood and wood products, known as the "Clean Wood Law". The latter came into force on April 26, 2023 and was promulgated on May 8, 2023. It will be implemented within two years. Its aim is to achieve sustainable and healthy development of the wood products industry by encouraging wood-related business entities to take measures to ensure the use of legally harvested wood and wood products, and thus contribute to regional/global environmental conservation.
China's resumption of Australian timber imports. Australian timber trade with China had been halted at the end of 2020 after China reported finding parasites in timber from several Australian ports. Data shows that in 2022, Australia's timber exports to China were worth 5.4 million euros, compared with 525.4 million euros in 2019, before the ban came into force. In an attempt to return to the Chinese market, Australian authorities asked China to resume trade and presented Chinese customs authorities with evidence of pesticide spraying on logs. But China did not react. The ban showed no sign of easing until 2023.