While the population of the U.S. is almost evenly split between “red” (Republican-leaning) and “blue” (Democratic-leaning) counties, the same is not true for the distribution of single-family and multifamily construction.

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Economic activity in the manufacturing sector grew in February and the US economy grew for the 130th consecutive month according to the latest Manufacturing ISM Report On Business.

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According to ITTO, China’s log imports in 2019 totalled 60.57 million cubic metres valued at US$9.434 billion (CIF), a year on year increase of just 1% in volume but there was a decline in the value of imports by 14%. The average price for imported logs was US$156 (CIF) per cubic metre.

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In the wooden furniture sector, recent trade trends suggest a slowdown in overall European consumption, although there is some positive news for external suppliers who benefited from increased EU market penetration during 2019.

Meanwhile EU wooden furniture exports were sliding consistently throughout 2019 while imports were beginning to rise. Taken together these trends imply a slowdown in sales for the EU wooden furniture manufacturing sector in 2019.

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According to Canadian Forest Industries, total housing starts decreased 3.6 per cent in January from an upwardly revised December reading to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.57 million units, according to a report from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development and Commerce Department. Meanwhile, overall permits surged to a 13-year high.

The January reading of 1.57 million starts is the number of housing units builders would begin if they kept this pace for the next 12 months. Within this overall number, single-family starts decreased 5.9 per cent to a 1.01 million seasonally adjusted annual rate. The multifamily sector, which includes apartment buildings and condos, increased 0.7 per cent to a 557,000 pace.

“The housing recovery continues, as single-family housing starts have surpassed 1 million for the second consecutive month and multifamily production has been running above 500,000 for the same period,” said Dean Mon, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Shrewsbury, N.J. “Meanwhile, builder confidence remains solid as demand continues to pick up.”

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Agricultural Minister Nguyen Xuan Cuong emphasized that with an export turnover of US$11.3 billion in 2019, an increase of 18 percent compared to that in 2018, forest products have become one of three product lines with annual export turnover over $10 billion, at a meeting with the Vietnam Timber and Forest Product Association and wood associations of Ho Chi Minh City, Binh Duong, Dong Nai and Binh Dinh provinces on January 9 in Long An Province, reported by SAIGON ONLINE.

Agricultural and forest products have accounted for a higher and higher proportion in the structure of export products, growing at a two-digit number for the last 20 years and the market space is still large as total wood trading of the world is at $300 billion per year.

The forestry industry targets to hit an export turnover of $20 billion by 2025. To achieve its target, it is necessary to complete institutions and policies, build the value chains of the product line and obtain market opportunities and new technology. The most important thing is to train and meet the demand for human resources in engineering, administration and designing to improve the value-added of products.

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According to theconstructionindex, excess stock brought in ahead of the original 1st April 2019 Brexit deadline, continuing uncertainty around Brexit and challenges posed by bark beetle attacks throughout central Europe all contributed to timber prices falling last year, says Nigel Buckley-Ryan, UK sales director of Södra Wood Ltd.

But there is now a risk of timber shortages and supply delays and so 2020 is likely to see prices going up again, he says.

Thanks to pre-Brexit stockpiling, the UK market was saturated in 2019, Mr Buckley-Ryan says. “This, coupled ongoing challenges posed by bark beetle attacks (and the need to fell and process affected wood as quickly as possible), led to over-supply and price reductions.”

This year, things will be tougher for buyers.

“The persistence of the bark beetle means that the yield of logs being harvested has fallen due to a deterioration of quality,” he says. “The market will likely feel the effect of this soon, particularly the market for C24 construction timber, which could be impacted by a tighter supply scenario.”

Bark beetle is a common and potentially devastating pest that tunnels under bark, cutting off the supply of food and water the tree needs to survive, eventually killing a tree in as little as two to four weeks. Bark beetle attacks on spruce throughout central Europe proliferated during summer 2019, with the situation becoming serious in several places in the Czech Republic, Austria and Germany. Damaged logs need to be harvested as soon as possible, which can have a knock-on effect on production.

“There’s no doubt that the timber industry is going through a challenging time at the moment,” Mr Buckley-Ryan says.

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According to FORDAQ, in 2019, the worldwide sales of the EPLF members was 447 million m² of laminate flooring from European production (2018: 454 million m², i.e. -1.5 percent). The second half of 2019 has witnessed an upturn recovering and is stabilising at a high level, even though the influence of declining world trade remains noticeable globally.

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According to project-syndicate.org, Gabon’s Forest Minister Lee White is organising a team to assess the legality of all the country’s concessions suspecting many administrative errors having occurred in the past.

In an article in Project Syndicate in October co-authored with National Climate Council chair Tanguy Gahouma, Minister White also reported that, in the next 12 months, the government will work with concession managers to make improvements to harvesting practices. The government will then conduct a follow-up study to measure the effect of the changes.

Under a recent ten-year agreement, Norway will pay Gabon a floor price of US$10 per certified tonne of carbon for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions caused by deforestation and degradation, as well as for absorption of CO2 by natural forests.

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Reports of illegal logging made through the ISO 9001- 2015 certified Standard External Independent Observation System (SNOIE) helped the Cameroonian Ministry of Forests and Wildlife generate a surplus of XAF 72.5 million of forest revenues in the period 2016–2019, according to a report in Business in Cameroon.

The funds were generated by fines imposed on illegal forest operators and through the proceeds of public auctions of confiscated timber. 

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