ITTO has published its tropical timber market report for the first half of September 2023.
One of the main topics is the decline in imports of tropical timber products into the EU27 in the first half of 2023. In the first six months of this year, the EU27 imported 838,900 tonnes of tropical timber and wooden furniture products with a total value of US$1.73 billion, 18% and 29% less respectively than in the same period in 2022. The scale of the drop in trade in the first six months of this year is partly due to the fact that imports reached historically high levels in the first half of 2022, particularly when considered in terms of value. In terms of quantity, EU27 imports of tropical timber and wooden furniture totalled 410,000 tonnes in the second quarter of this year, 4% less than in the previous quarter and 24% less than in the same quarter of 2022. The quantity of EU27 imports in both the first and second quarters of this year was well below the long-term average of around 450,000 tonnes per quarter over the 2012-2019 period.
Other issues include:
The continued increase in US imports of tropical hardwood raw materials. Although not yet back to last year's levels, US imports of tropical hardwood products rose in July, with hardwood plywood imports up 38%. Imports of tropical wood veneers and tropical timber mouldings rose by 96% and 44% respectively. Imports of tropical sawn timber rose by 5% and imports of assembled floor panels by 7%, while imports of wooden furniture and hardwood flooring fell.
Ghana to issue FLEGT licenses for timber exports to the EU. Ghana is set to become the first African country and the second in the world to begin issuing timber export licenses under the Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) program. This decision follows the successful evaluation of timber marking and tracking processes in the Bobiri Forest Reserve in the Ashanti region by a team from the European Union and the Ghana Forestry Commission.
The decline in the furniture sector's contribution to Indonesia's GDP, announced by Industry Minister Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita. In 2022, the furniture industry contributed 1.3% to non-oil and gas GDP, with an export performance value of US$2.5 billion. Up to June 2023, exports of furniture and handicrafts reached US$1.1 billion. In this context, the Minister referred to the factors affecting the current and future furniture market, namely the growing trend towards online shopping, the use of industry-based technologies, the growing demand for environmentally-friendly furniture and the increasing need for functional, ergonomic, designed and personalized furniture, particularly for the millennial generation. To meet these new conditions, the Ministry of Industry has drawn up a strategy that focuses on three points: strengthening product promotion resources, increasing the production of environmentally-friendly furniture and reinforcing benchmark research in the furniture market.
The boom in timber-frame construction in Brazil. Plantation pine is the main input for wood-frame construction structures. A system that offers advantages such as faster construction, reduced waste and energy savings. The recent standardization of wood-frame construction published by the Brazilian Association of Technical Standards (ABNT) is generating interest in the sector and represents an important step towards industrialized, sustainable construction throughout the country. The advantages of wood-frame construction are manifold: thermal and acoustic comfort, shorter construction times, competitive prices... It can also help remedy Brazil's housing shortage. This construction method could be of particular benefit to the southern region of Brazil, especially the states of Paraná and Santa Catarina, where a large proportion of the country's pine plantations are located.
The opportunity for Vietnamese companies to sell products made in Vietnam on the Amazon and Alibaba e-commerce platforms, with the increase in online purchases of home decoration and furniture. According to Amazon's statistics, home decoration and furniture items have seen exceptional growth over the period 2020-2022. Even after returning to the office, people spend a lot of time enjoying their home life, and online purchases of this type of product continue. Over the past three years, home and kitchen decoration has been one of the top-selling categories for Vietnamese sellers on Amazon. Over the past three months, the number of potential buyers of Vietnamese products in this category has increased by 64% year-on-year. According to Alibaba, the most sought-after items are dining sets, kitchen utensils, home textiles and practical, affordable storage.
China's development of a new policy to support the real estate market. The Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, the People's Bank of China and the General Administration of Financial Supervision have jointly issued a notice on optimizing the standards for identifying the number of housing units in personal property loans. This notice encourages the implementation of policy measures aimed at "recognizing housing without recognizing loans" for first-time homebuyers. Under this new system, even if a first-time buyer has already benefited from a loan, as long as the borrower's current name does not appear in the property register, he or she can apply for a mortgage. Current sentiment on residential property markets in China's four leading cities has improved, with local governments announcing policy changes to stimulate demand. This should help stabilize the property market.
Stable US wood furniture imports. Although US wood furniture imports fell in June, imports from most countries remained stable. Imports from Indonesia were the exception, rising 33% in July after falling 30% in June. At 1.67 billion US dollars, imports of wooden furniture in July were 20.5% lower than in July 2022. For the year as a whole, imports are down 28% on last year to July.