There were hardly any deliveries from February through to early April and UK importers were forced to live off inventories. However imports picked up during the summer months, rising into September with the arrival of significant volumes under delayed contracts.
Likely due to supply problems in China, UK imports of plywood from Malaysia, which were in long term decline before this year, have recovered some ground during the pandemic period. Despite significant slowing in May, imports from Malaysia were still up 24% at 49,500 cu.m for the first nine months of the year.
In contrast to Malaysian plywood, UK imports of Indonesian plywood fell 39% to 27,500 cu.m in the first nine months of the year. In addition to supply problems during the pandemic, Indonesian plywood has come under very intense competitive pressure from Russian birch plywood this year.
UK imports of tropical hardwood plywood from South America declined in the first nine months of this year, down 44% from Paraguay to 3,900 cu.m and down 44% from Brazil to 3,100 cu.m.
In recent years, the UK has been importing small volumes of tropical hardwood plywood from Latvia and Spain. In the first nine months of 2020, imports increased 13% to 8,500 cu.m from Latvia but fell 38% to 4,600 cu.m from Spain.