According to ITTO, the EU imported 2.04 million cu.m of sawn hardwood from outside the region in 2017, 13 percent less than the previous year.

EU imports of tropical sawn hardwood were 875,000 cu.m in 2017, which is 18 percent less than the previous year. Imports of tropical sawn hardwood last year were the lowest ever recorded by the EU, below the previous low of 930,000 cu.m in 2013 during the euro-zone crises and only around a third of the level prevailing before the global financial crises.

The value of EU imports of tropical sawn timber decreased by 16 percent to €653 million in 2017. The average unit value of tropical sawn hardwood imports into the EU in 2017 was €746 per cubic meter, up from €728 per cubic meter the previous year.

In 2017, EU imports of temperate sawn hardwood fell by 8 percent to 1.16 million cu.m. The more rapid pace of decline imports from the tropics meant that the share of tropical in total EU sawn hardwood imports fell from 46 percent in 2016 to 43 percent in 2017, an acceleration in the long term downward trend.

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According to the data from China’s Customs the value of wood products trade between China and the USA fell 16 percent to US$1,90 million in March 2018. China's imports dropped 5 percent to US$840 million while exports declined 23 percent to US$1,050 million.

However, the value of wood products trade between China and the USA in the first three months of 2018 rose about 9 percent to US$6.26 billion, China’s imports increased about 6 percent to US$2.28 billion while exports value grew 10 percent to US$3.98 billion.

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A report from the General Department of Customs (GDC) showed that export turnover of all woodwork items in the first four months of the year increased significantly.

Vietnam exported $680 million worth of products in April and $2.6 billion in the first four months of 2018, an increase of 9 percent over the same period last year.

Wooden furniture manufacturers expect another prosperous year in 2018 as demand is predicted to continue to increase globally.

According to Nguyen Ton Quyen, deputy chair of the Vietnam Timber and Forest Product Association (Vifores), the target of $9 billion turnover this year is within reach. However, to obtain such high export turnover, Vietnam would need a large amount of materials.

The agriculture ministry reported that by the end of April 2018, Vietnam had imported $698 million worth of timber materials, up by 2.5 percent compared with the same period last year. 

It is estimated that for every $1 billion worth of increased export turnover, the material needed would be 3.5 million cubic meters. Meanwhile, domestic sources (planted forests) can only satisfy 10-15 percent of demand.

Every year, Vietnam collects 18-19 million cubic meters of timber, but only 2-3 million cubic meters can be used to make wooden furniture, while the rest are chips for artificial boards.

To solve the material shortage, Vifores has proposed the state restrict material exports, especially chips which can be used for other work. It has also suggested fully exploiting domestic materials such as rubber wood and fruit tree wood.

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Popular woodworking machinery from MOReTENs AB is now available through Wood- Mizer's global distribution network.

Wood-Mizer has acquired the Swedish company, MOReTENs AB, placing a full range of popular 4-sided moulders, planers, table saws, spindle moulders, planer/thicknessers and CNC routers into Wood-Mizer’s globally available product range.

Founded in 1980, MOReTENs designs and manufactures a popular range of woodworking machinery which includes four-sided moulder/planer combination models, spindle moulders, and a workshop table saw. In addition, MOReTENs also supplies high-end, CNC-controlled routers and log home building machinery.

“Throughout our history, Wood-Mizer has been committed to providing the best quality equipment to process logs into finished wood products,” said Wood-Mizer President and CEO Richard Vivers. “The affordable and versatile moulder and planer product lines from MOReTENs have been proven worldwide for decades, and are now backed by the high-quality service and support network customers expect from Wood-Mizer.”

The founder and owner of MOReTENs, Bo Mårtensson has joined Wood-Mizer as the General Director of the factory in Ostersund, Sweden. The factory in Sweden marks Wood-Mizer’s fifth manufacturing plant throughout the world including three facilities in the USA and one in Poland.

“Many years ago, I was a young engineer with carpentry experience when I started MOReTENs and began building woodworking machinery,” said Bo Mårtensson. “I’m proud to see my products in workshops worldwide, and now we are very pleased to be joining the Wood-Mizer team, which will see our existing products being available to a much wider customer base and will also accelerate our capability to introduce new products to meet our customers’ needs.”

Beginning in March 2018, Wood-Mizer will offer the new range of moulders/planers through their distribution network. The latest acquisition of MOReTENs builds on Wood-Mizer's position as a worldwide manufacturer and supplier of narrow band sawmills, now offering a full range of equipment that can seamlessly convert logs into dried lumber and finally into finished wood products - all backed by Wood-Mizer's expertise and commitment to excellent customer service.

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The booming housing economy and furniture manufacturing, and even demand for whiskey are all affecting the surge in hardwood exports to North Asia markets. One in three boards coming off the production line is destined for the People’s Republic of China. Companies nationwide are supplying a variety of hardwood species to customers in China, Korea and Japan.

One third of the U.S. is forested area accounting for 751 million acres, which is second only to Russia’s 766 million acres. In 2017, the U.S. value of industry shipments of wood was $95 billion. Asia markets are depending on a sustainable source of temperate hardwood (ash, cherry, maple, oak, walnut) and the U.S. can increase exports because of careful management of its forests. In fact, the U.S. grows more hardwood each year than it harvests for reliable supplies, according to United Kingdom based International Timber. Moreover, the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) confirmed to the AJOT that the U.S. surpassed Russia as the top temperate hardwood exporter to China.

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According to EUWID, estonian exports of rough-sawn and planed softwood lumber to non-EU countries increased by 28 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017 vis à vis the comparative quarter of the preceding year to 67,325m³. According to preliminary information from Eurostat, at 35,724m³, almost half the total volume was delivered to customers in Australia which corresponds to an increase of 80 percent. Exports to EU countries, at 97,466m³, fell short of the preceding year’s volume by 21 percent. 

In the first quarter exports were 16 percent below the preceding year’s figure. In the second and third quarters exports decreased by 26 percent and 13 percent respectively.

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The planned and ongoing construction of mixed-use mega projects in the UAE is driving the demand for wood, and wood related products, experts at the Dubai WoodShow said on Monday.

Dr Abdullah bin Mohammed Belhaif Al Nuaimi, UAE Cabinet Member and Minister of Infrastructure Development, officially inaugurated the 13th edition of the event and spoke about the importance of the show in light of the UAE's construction sector.

"Any segment, including the wood industry, is going to be important in a country like the UAE, which is seeing vast developments to prepare for global events such as Expo 2020," he said after the opening of the event. "The wood industry is very important to us and it is an added value to our economy."

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Latest statistics (to November 2017) show tropical sawn hardwood imports declined sharply last year, reports from ITTO.

The EU imported 822,600 cu.m of tropical sawn hardwood between January and November 2017 was 20 percent less than the same period in 2016.

In the eleven-month period, tropical sawn hardwood imports declined from all 10 of the top suppliers to the EU.

From Cameroon imports fell 21 percent to 293,800 cu.m, from Gabon 21 percent to 93,700 cu.m, from Brazil 6 percent to 92,500 cu.m, Congo 18 percent to 49,900 cu.m, Cote d’Ivoire 21 percent to 45,200 cu.m, Ghana 19 percent to 18,600 cu.m, Democratic Republic of Congo 51 percent to 15,000 cu.m and Ecuador 11 percent to 9,600 cu.m.

According to some importers, one reason is adjustment after over optimistic buying in 2015 and 2016. Trade was further disrupted in 2017 by particularly heavy seasonal rains in both Africa and Asia.

Worsening congestion at the Cameroon port of Douala, due to supply bottlenecks following the rains, combined with lack of dredging resulting in reduced vessel load factors, added to problems in West Africa.

While also pointing out that a significant proportion of timber shipped into their country is en route to other European markets, Belgian importers also attributed the dramatic fluctuation in its imports from Cameroon from 2015/16 to 2017 to post-recession improvement in supplier mills’ capacity and efficiency.

Long lead times immediately after the international downturn, in some cases extending to two years, led to some Belgian importers increasing order volumes to secure sufficient stock.

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Residential furniture orders dropped nine percent in December 2017 compared to the year prior, according to the latest Furniture Insights survey of residential furniture manufacturers and distributors from Smith Leonard. December's drop is only the second time in 2017 where new orders decreased compared with the same month in the year prior.

The good news for 2017 was that year-to-date, and new orders were up six percent over last year, with shipments also up four percent. "In spite of the slow finish in December, 2017 was what we would say was a decent year," noted Ken Smith, managing partner at Smith Leonard. "While there were a few participants up low double digits, the participants in general were fairly close together." 

Shipments in December dipped seven percent compared to the same period in 2016, with about 60 percent of the participants reporting declines. Backlogs fell 10 percent compared to November, and also down four percent compared to December 2016, Smith Leonard reported.

On the retail side, sales at furniture and home furnishings stores were up 4.7 percent in January over January 2017 on an adjusted basis and 6.6 percent unadjusted, according to the report. Consumer confidence reports are also positive.

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According to EUWID, in 2017, Swedish soft-wood-timber and planed-product producers raised their exports slightly by one percent against the year before to around 13.1m m³. At roughly 27bn SEK, the total value of the exports was nine percent higher than a year earlier, setting a record figure. According to the provisional figures published by the Swedish Forest Industries Federation (Skogsindustrierna), by far the highest rate of growth was recorded for exports to Asia at +14 percent to 2.05m m³. At 919,300 m³, exports to China including Hong Kong rose by 18 percent. Exports to Japan were eight percent up at 840,900 m³.

The highest percentage rate of growth was recorded for exports to North America, primarily to the USA, at +61 percent to 410,300 m³. Exports to buyers in Europe were raised only slightly by two percent to 7.97m m³. The UK, traditionally the main recipient within Europe, took delivery of a total of 2.58m m³, a reduction of 5 percent against the year before. 

The persistently difficult market conditions in North Africa and the Middle East were the main factor responsible for the reduction in Sweden’s exports to these regions last year. In spite of an increase of 13 percent in deliveries to Egypt to 1.29m m³, exports to Africa fell by eight percent to 2.16m m³.

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