Is It Time To Ban The Export Of Logs?

By Michael Hermens, Group Managing Director of APP Timber, a ‘solution provider’ company he founded 23 years ago that specialises in imported certified timber solutions

This was the title of an article I wrote for another Asian timber magazine about four years ago and it seems the same topic is heating up again in Europe. 

Many European wood processing companies recently submitted a petition to the European Commission to stop the export of logs from Europe. 

It seems Europe has woken up and understood that the export of European logs (predominantly Oak, Beech and softwoods) mainly to Asia is impacting the domestic supply and pushing prices through the roof. 

This will be worse once Russia implements the export ban on unprocessed raw material including sawn timber.

I mentioned the same topic about twenty years ago to various sawmills during one of my visits to New Zealand as I argued that the excessive export of Pine logs to China and India was affecting the availability and price for local sawmills. 

However, all these New Zealand sawmills replied me that the export of logs was beneficial for the country and it would never be stopped by their government. 

Twenty years later, the tide seems to have turned; many of those sawmills were forced to close and all surviving sawmills are complaining about the lack of log supply of and too high prices. 

Seems either a full export ban or severe export tax might be the only way forward for sawmills to survive.

Ten years ago, the same topic came up during an American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) breakaway session at the annual NHLA Convention in the US where I was invited as panel member. 

I was ridiculed and people claimed that I did not understand the American hardwood industry and a log ban or export tax would not be beneficial. 

I disagreed then and I still do, we should prevent logs from being processed worldwide and ensure that these precious resources are processed in their own countries, providing employment and high tax revenues. 

The guarantee of sufficient raw material like logs for the coming years will allow sawmills to upgrade their facilities and invest more in the production of wooden products predominantly used in Europe. And this will reduce Europe’s increased dependence on importing such products.

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  • Last modified on Monday, 26 July 2021 17:54
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