Yokohama, Japan: Although overall economic conditions are improving in Europe, growth in key countries and sectors for the tropical hardwood sector is subdued and weakening in some cases, according to ITTO.
The European Commission currently forecasts GDP growth in the EU to remain level at 1.9 percent in both 2017 and 2018. However, private consumption, the main growth driver in recent years which expanded at its fastest pace in 10 years in 2016, is set to moderate this year as inflation partly erodes gains in the purchasing power of households.
Investment is expected to expand fairly steadily in the EU but remains hampered by the modest growth outlook. Unemployment continues its downward trend, but it remains high in many European countries. In the euro area, it is expected to fall to 9.4 percent in 2017 and 8.9 percent in 2018.
Meanwhile the European market for tropical wood which, after a long period of decline, stabilised at a low level between 2014 and 2016, has generally slowed again this year.