Yokohama, Japan: According to ITTO, after making gains last year, EU imports of tropical veneer have continued to rise in 2017, hitting 40,000 metric tonnes (MT) in the first quarter, a 15 percent increase compared to the same period in 2016. As in 2016, most gains were in imports from Gabon, which increased 28 percent to 21,700 MT in the first quarter of 2017.

EU veneer imports also increased from several smaller supplying countries including Congo (+18 percent to 2,900 MT), DRC (+187 percent to 1,400 MT) and Equatorial Guinea (+45 percent to 1,400 MT). However, imports declined from Côted'Ivoire (-19 percent to 6,600 MT), Cameroon (-1 percent to 3,000 MT), and Ghana (-12 percent to 1,500 MT).

EU imports of veneer from Gabon consist mainly of rotary okoumé veneer destined for plywood manufacturers in France. The EU market for decorative tropical hardwood veneers is benefitting to some extent from the slow recovery in EU furniture and joinery manufacturing activity.


Biesse has a strong presence at the 2017 edition of the Ligna trade show in Hanover from May 22-26 with a stand covering more than 5000 square meters.     

It has attracted numerous visitors, customer delegations and journalists from all over the world at the event to let them participate in a virtual tour of the manufacturing facility and experience Biesse’s outstanding technological innovation. During the 5-day exhibition, the company has generated 45 million euros worth of incoming orders and the figures hit a record high.

“The layout of our stand was entirely based on the 4.0 concept" started Federico Broccoli, Division Director Wood/Sales & Branch Division Director. The concept of industry 4.0 is the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies and it's also the new industry frontier, based on advanced digital technologies and machines which speak to companies. Biesse devotes itself to transforming customers' working place into digital and real-time factories which can enable every customer benefit from the digital manufacturing opportunities. As Luca Amadei, the regional sales manager systems from Biesse mentioned:“We decided to make the best technology going with the concept of industry 4.0, and we are also trying to make the automatic factory affordable and simple, not luxury. We believe Biesse is the company for everybody, and every customer can get the solution from us.”

At the presence of the show, there are more than 40 fully-functioning technologies have been displayed for all sizes of companies that engaged in wood and other materials field. More than 300 experts at the Biesse stand who aims to help customers generate value from machines, get solutions to obtain high quality and customized products and discover the methods to develop a product which is both liked and appreciated through combining technology with humanistic wisdom.

This event has strengthened customers’ trust placed in the professionalism and reliability that the Biesse brand represents.  A great number of visitors from all sizes of manufacturing companies acquired the technologies contents on changing the ways to design and produce objects by using easier solutions which helps them improve productivity at lower costs effectively. 


The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) 22nd Southeast Asia and Greater China Convention was successfully held at The Westin Qingdao Hotel from June 22-23 in China. Over 400 delegates and more than 40 AHEC hardwood exporting members companies attended the convention, including several world renowned designers. This year’s theme, “Toward a Sustainable Low Carbon Future: New Technologies and Applications for American Hardwoods”, was aimed at promoting American hardwood for Asia’s architectural, design and manufacturing industries.

Invited speakers included Mr. William G. Verzani, Deputy Director of Guangzhou Agricultural Trade Office, Mr. Dave Bramlage, Chairman, American Hardwood Export Council, Mr. John Chan, Regional Director, American Hardwood Export Council Southeast Asia & Greater China, Ms. Lorna Christie, Executive Director of National Hardwood Lumber Association, Mr. Sun Jie, Chairman of Shandong Furniture Association & President of Yantai Jisi Group, Mr. Dana Spessert, Chief Inspector, National Hardwood Lumber Association, Mr. Aaron Leri, Sales and Marketing Director, AA Corporation Ltd, and Mr. Silas Chiow, Director of SOM China. The speakers shared insights on the latest business opportunities, global trends and signs of sustainable growth for American hardwood. 

In 2016, exports of American hardwood to Greater China and Southeast Asia totaled US$1.6B and US$290M respectively. Compared to the first quarter of 2016, exports has increased by 25.7 percent to US$571 million among Southeast Asia & Greater China in the first quarter of 2017. This number represents 60 percent of all American hardwood exported globally. Increased market demand benefited from China’s desire for hardwood furniture and the global appreciation of Chinese and Southeast Asian manufacturing.

Michael Snow, Executive Director of the American Hardwood Export Council, introduced the current situation of global exports for American hardwood. Based on data from 2014 to 2016, the US ranked first as largest exporting country of temperate forest hardwood with the amount of exports double that of the second ranking country, Thailand. In recent years, the five most important exporting destinations for AHEC have been Greater China, the European Union (EU), Canada, Vietnam and Mexico.

With the Chinese government’s commitment to environmental management and a push for low carbon lifestyles, the future is bright for American hardwood in the Chinese market. According to the American Hardwood Environmental Profile System published by AHEC, American hardwood is superior for its carbon storage. This year, Mr. Snow emphasized how to scientifically manage and broadly apply American hardwood in efforts to reduce carbon emissions. For 17 years, Michael Snow has been a leader and partner of AHEC, while witnessing the dramatic growth of American hardwood imports between China and the US.  

According to data from the China Furniture Association, companies with annual output of more than RMB20 million reported domestic sales of furniture products increased from 74.3 percent in 2011 to 78.94 percent (YoY) in 2016. 

China’s economy is still in an upward phase and should maintain a growth rate of around or slightly above 6.5 percent in 2017. The new ban on logging of temperate forests in three northeastern provinces of China this year will push up demand for American hardwood, compensating for a weaker Chinese renminbi currency, a disadvantage for imports. The growth in domestic consumption of furniture is playing an important role in strengthening China’s number one position in furniture production in the world, compensating for weaker export markets in the years to come. 

The northeast province of Shandong is currently one of the top three import provinces for furniture. Shandong is also the biggest furniture manufacturing province in China. This convention is supported by Shandong Furniture Association, Shandong Decoration Industry Association, Qingdao Timber Trade Association, Qingdao Furniture Association, Shanghai Timber, Trade Association and China Institute of Interior Designers.

Mr. John Chan, Regional Director, American Hardwood Export Council Southeast Asia & Greater China said, “Improving the design and application of American hardwood in furniture manufacturing and interior design is our mission. American red and white oak has been popular both in Southeast Asia and Greater China. Those two types of oak wood are also the most common tree species in the US, and at the same time, preferred by many designers for construction and design.”

Smart collaboration of American hardwood with furniture manufacturing and design in Asia is the continued mission for AHEC. Silas Chiow, AIA, Director of SOM China and Aaron Leri, Sales and Marketing Director, AA Corporation Ltd were also present at the event to share their expertise of building world renowned buildings and award winning interior design work.

AHEC also hosted a mini trade fair, offering a platform for over 40 AHEC members to exhibit and connect with local businesses, dealers and manufacturers. 


According to, panel producer Norbord’s European operations has reported continuing strong demand in Q1, with double-digit demand growth in both the UK and Germany.

The company said OSB was continuing to gain market share from plywood.

Its European operations delivered adjusted earnings before interest tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of US$6m (Q1 2016: US$10m).

Peter Wijnbergen, Norbord’s president and CEO, said in Europe the company continued to face a post-Brexit translation headwind from the weaker Pound Sterling, and Q1 included the additional impact of higher resin prices that exceeded the panel price increases it had recorded to-date.

He said in local currency terms, OSB prices in the UK were 5 percent higher than the same quarter last year and have firmed by about 10 percent since their post-Brexit lows. On the continent, OSB prices were 3 percent lower than the same quarter last year but flat versus the prior quarter.

UK MDF and particleboard prices were up 8 percent and 3 percent, respectively versus both comparative periods.

"Our project to modernize and expand the Inverness, Scotland OSB mill to serve this rapidly growing customer demand remains on budget and on track to start up in the second half of this year,” said Mr Wijnbergen.


The Forestry Commission is targeting the local processing of Rosewood for value addition and export purposes, reports from STARRFM online.

The Commission says this new agenda is aimed at efficient regulation of the exploitation of Rosewood in accordance with agreements with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

It would also help in reducing the illegal harvesting and export of the wood. Addressing a press conference at the Corporate Offices of the Forestry Commission, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Commission, John Allotey said the Commission will issue licenses to some local factories that have been identified to have the capacity to process rosewood.

“The Forestry Commission will regulate the exploitation of rosewood in accordance with agreement with CITES. Henceforth the commission will be tasked to ensure domestic processing of rosewood logs for value addition prior to export to overseas market”, he stated.


U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell recently announced over $8.3 million to substantially expand and accelerate wood products and wood energy markets. Federal funds will leverage almost $37 million in matching funds from 36 business, university, nonprofit, and tribal partners in 19 states for a total investment of over $45 million. The public-private partnerships leveraged with these grants will lead to the removal of hazardous fuels from forests while spurring the economic development of rural communities, according to Biomass Magazine.

The awarded funds will stimulate the removal of hazardous fuels from national forests and other forest lands to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires and promote forest health.

“The Wood Innovations Grant Program helps create jobs in rural communities and keeps our forests healthy,” Tidwell said. “By investing in strong markets for forest products, we can incentivize sustainable forest management and sustain our rural communities".

This year the Forest Service received 114 proposals, highlighting the expanding interest in using wood as an innovative building material and renewable energy source. Since 2005 more than 230 grants have been awarded to small businesses, nonprofits, tribes, states, and local governments to improve forest health while creating jobs, renewable energy, and healthy communities.

Of the 38 projects funded, 26 focus upon expanding wood products markets, and 12 increase wood energy markets. Projects address a wide range of issues that include increasing capacity at mass timber manufacturing facilities, testing the resiliency of cross-laminated timber (CLT) structures against explosives, establishing biomass district energy systems, and examining the use of biochar in restoring water quality.


interzum ended on 19 May 2017 with record results. A total of approximately 69,000 visitors from 152 countries attended the world’s largest trade fair for furniture production and interior construction between 16 and 19 May 2017. “It was the best interzum ever yet,” said Katharina C. Hamma, Chief Operating Officer of Koelnmesse GmbH, who is delighted with the results. “With this year’s interzum, we offered the industry a unique event. interzum has reached a new level with the rises in visitor figures, the growth in exhibitor numbers and the increase in floor space combined with measures to enhance the event’s quality,” said Ms Hamma. Some 1,732 exhibitors (2015: 1,537) from 60 countries presented their innovations at interzum 2017. Foreign exhibitors accounted for 79 per cent of the total.


More international visitors

interzum’s international reach is not only increasing amongst exhibitors. The trade fair also attracted growing numbers of international visitors. The proportion of foreign visitors rose to around 74 per cent (2015: 71 per cent). Overall, more than 51,000 visitors came from outside Germany. Within Europe, increases in visitor figures were recorded in particular from the Netherlands (up 26 per cent), Spain (up 25 per cent), Italy (up 20 per cent) and Eastern Europe (up 46 per cent). Visitor numbers from Poland and the United Kingdom also rose. Considerable increases were seen in visitors from Asia (up 53 per cent), the Middle East (up 25 per cent), Africa (up 17 per cent), Australia/Oceania (up 31 per cent), North America (up 26 per cent) and India (up 41 per cent).


Trends for tomorrow’s living spaces

This year interzum addressed some very exciting themes and ideas for trade visitors. It demonstrated that outstanding innovations in furniture production and interior construction are constantly being developed. New materials, technologies and design approaches were just some of the key areas that the trade fair focused on. The products on display ranged from fittings, surfaces and decors to textiles, glass and lighting all the way through to innovative materials. The wide-ranging special events at the trade fair examined global trends such as sustainability, digitalization and mobility. The special Mobile Spaces event area explored how a new understanding of mobility will influence vehicle interiors. With events such as this, interzum underscored its focus on groundbreaking ideas and highlighted their importance to exhibitors.

Many of the innovations presented in Cologne can be used in both stationary and mobile spaces.

interzum 2017 in numbers

Some 1,732 companies from 60 countries (2015: 1,537 companies from 58 countries) appeared at interzum 2017 on a gross exhibition space covering 187,400 m² (2015: 163,000 m²). This included 368 exhibitors from Germany (2015: 372 exhibitors) and 1,364 foreign exhibitors (2015: 1,165 exhibitors). Foreign exhibitors accounted for 79 per cent (2015: 76 per cent). Including estimates for the last day of the trade fair, 69,000 trade visitors from 152 countries (2015: 58,023 trade visitors from 143 countries) visited interzum, with foreign trade visitors accounting for approximately 74 per cent (2015: 71 per cent). *

The next interzum will take place from 21 – 24 May 2019 in Cologne, Germany.


Signing ceremony took place at Dieffenbacher’sLigna booth in Hanover


On the second day of Ligna 2017, Vietnam-based Thien Lam Dat JSC and Dieffenbacher sealed the deal for a complete MDF plant in BacGiang, about 50 km east of Hanoi.


“We began to plant fast-growing tree plantations with the objective of producing wood-based panels 11 years ago. During the years we have visited more than 30 plants in Europe to study the technology and find the right supplier for our project. This long journey consequently resulted in our partnership with Dieffenbacher, which we are very proud to announce today here at the Dieffenbacher booth,” said Mr. Dang Quoc Lich (Chairman of the Board, Thien Lam Dat JSC) during the signing ceremony. Mr. Christian Dieffenbacher (Member of the Board of Management, Dieffenbacher) added: “We are happy that all our efforts were rewarded. I am sure that it will be a very fruitful cooperation and that the new MDF plant will be a great success for Thien Lam Dat.”


According to Mr.Lich, it was very important for Thien Lam Dat that all of the equipment willbe manufactured in Europe. The core of the plant will be the CPS+ press system. The scope of supply includes the complete production line, from the wood yard throughthe strapping and packing line as well as an energy plant.


The raw material for the MDF production will come from Thien Lam Dat’s plantations and will be mostly acacia wood. Start-up of the plant is planned for mid-2018.


Image: Signing ceremony at Ligna 2017 in Hanover. From left: Christian Dieffenbacher (Member of the Board of Management, Dieffenbacher) and Dang Quoc Lich (Chairman of the Board, Thien Lam Dat JSC).


Dirk Eisenmann 

Head of Marketing and Communications

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LIGNA 2017 had delivered big in terms of innovations and global appeal during May 22-26, with a significant increase in the number of exhibitors and visitors from abroad and new impetus for the wave of digitalization currently redefining the industry. It had attracted a total of 93,000 visitors, including some 42,000 attendees from outside Germany who had come to Hannover from more than 100 different countries.


Mega-theme Industry 4.0

Industry 4.0 concepts for the wood industry were the dominant theme at this year’s LIGNA, with major emphasis placed on digitalization, integration and automation.

Leader companies such as IMA, WEINIG, Wood-Mizer, Altendorf, Wemhoener, Dieffenbacher and Leuco introduced advanced new products and technologies through the fair. In line with the mega-theme of Industry 4.0, visitors were especially interested in the trend towards visualizing process and work steps.

In the HALL 11-13, the layout of Biesse’s stand was totally based on the concept of industry 4.0. With more than 40 technologies solutions and 300 experts on the spot, it help visitors to discover the advantages of digital factories and enable them benefit from the conditions offered by being Industry 4.0 ready. Customers can improve their production at lower costs. 


Innovation highlights

There have been many sparkling innovation results of woodworking industry displayed on Ligna which reflected current industry trends and delivered practical benefits for visitors. 


CERATIZIT team has shown the exciting innovation highlights on the exhibition. The cutting tools and tooling system they have offered can achieve improved surface quality in both hardwood and softwood machining. Besides, manufacturers gain a better cost-benefit ratio. Corrosion and oxidation resistance during cutting makes higher process reliability. 


In addition, as a renewable energy source, biomass has been used widely in the industry. But burning biomass releases carbon emissions even higher than burning coal. However, INNERGY-THE specialist in boilers and thermal plants in the wood sector, offers sustainable installations and smart solutions to generate energy from biomass with low emissions which is good for environment.


Using technology improve forestry

The key concepts underlying LIGNA are automation, efficiency and networked processes which are also applied to forestry. RIF, the institute for research on sustainable forest management developed the virtual forest which supports various processes that are essential for an efficient work in the forest. With the technologies and system developed for forest, date can be efficiently managed which is of benefit of collecting forest information just in time and making comprehensive forest plan.


New LIGNA layout

The new LIGNA layout was also well received by primary industry visitors, with the four thematic areas of Forestry Technology , Sawmill Technology , Wood-based Panel Production and Energy from Wood . The focus was on the production of wood as a raw material for products or energy generation, through the planning, felling and retrieval stages. The current state of the art on the use in forestry of UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), or drones, proved a popular drawing card, along with the latest forest surveying processes.


The next LIGNA will turn on May 27-31, 2019.


According to Construction DIVE, the softwood lumber dispute, which had been fueled by speculation over the past few months, reached its first milestone of certainty in April, when the U.S. government announced an average 20% tariff on Canadian softwood lumber imports. Another set of taxes, in the form of antidumping duties, is expected by June 23.

The recent price increases driven by the looming tariffs could increase the cost of a new home by $3,600, according to the NAHB, while the U.S. Lumber Coalition puts forth a smaller figure, $400 on $6,000 in current lumber costs for a $350,000 house. Another challenge is supply: If Canadian mills look to other countries for their exports, U.S. homebuilders could face shortages unless domestic manufacturers ramp up their own production in time.   

Still, it could be as much as six months before the full impact of the new taxes is felt, since many builders negotiated deals in advance.

On the commercial side, material prices, and, subsequently, construction costs, are growing at a faster pace than what contractors are charging. Like the NAHB, the Associated General Contractors of America is requesting that legislators work to prevent international disputes that could impact material prices.

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