Tropical Timber Market Report

Import of wood and wood products grew, but the uncertain economic outlook continued to weigh on the sentiment in some markets; countries continue to show their intent in eradicating illegal logging, and different stakeholders are working together on certification and policy-making; on the trade front, countries are strengthening their trade relationships amid the turmoil between the US and China. ITTO gives us insights on the happenings around the world. 



Sarawak plantation development 

The decision by the Sarawak government to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Edge Global Norway has caught everyone’s attention and attracted media attention. 

Under the terms of the MoU, the parties will undertake ecosystem mapping, baseline emission studies, carbon stock assessments and soil condition analysis in order to determine the optimum methodologies for the restoration, conservation or enhancement of project areas.



Eliminating illegal logging in Maluku and Papua

Director General of Law Enforcement in the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK), Rasio Ridho Sani, has said the ministry is strongly committed to eliminate illegal logging that continues in Indonesia. 

He particularly mentioned that efforts are underway to eliminate illegal logging activities in Maluku and Papua taking advantage of high-tech monitoring and committed human resource capacity.


President demands legal protection for forest communities

The Indonesian President has reminded his administration that the government has a clear policy on land use in forest areas that calls for providing legal protection for communities that depend on using land in forest areas.

The President urged ministers to speed up data collection, inventories and verification of land use in forest areas. He emphasised that a simple, easy to understand, system to record and protect land use in forest areas is required.


Strengthened cooperation in SFM

The Research and Development Agency of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry (BLI KLHK) and the Center for International Forestry Research (CIFOR) have agreed a new phase of cooperation and this was confirmed through a memorandum of understanding (MOU). 

This MOU extends the joint work on the development of Indonesia's national carbon accounting system, smoke-free sustainable livelihood projects, sustainable wetland adaptation and mitigation programmes and improving governance, policies and institutional arrangements for REDD and global comparative studies on REDD+.


Younger generation understand benefits from green purchasing

FSC Marketing and Communication Manager, Indra Setia Dewi, has said that the younger generation, especially millennials, are more conscious of what they buy or use as they understand purchasing behaviour can contribute to environmental sustainability. 

However, she said more needs to be done to raise people’s awareness of sustainability issues and as a start the recognition of certified sustainable product labelling needs further promotion.


Wood products have clear export potential

Based on studies conducted by the University Network for Indonesian Export Development (UNIED) on the main export commodities it is processed cocoa and wood products that have the greatest export potential. 

This, according to the authors of the study, is due to their high competitiveness and large market potential.

Wood products are considered one of Indonesia's leading exports and these products perform well in Asian markets. UNIED noted that Indonesia has strong competitive position with wood charcoal, unprocessed wood and plywood.

UNIED says Indonesia's timber and furniture exports are forecast to grow in 2019 with exports (especially plywood) to Japan being one of the drivers. Exports of wood and processed wood products are expected to grow 12 percent in 2019 and exports of wood furniture are projected to grow by around 10 percent this year.

In related news and in contrast to the forecasts made by UNIED, the Secretary General of the Association of Indonesian Furniture and Handicraft Industry (HIMKI), Abdul Sobur, said that 2019 furniture exports are estimated to only grow five to six percent year-on-year as there are many obstacles, one of which is the Timber Verification and Legality System (SVLK) which is applied to downstream products. 

This, said Mr Sobur, makes it difficult for exporters to be competitive in international markets. He claimed, overseas buyers do not ask for SVLK documents for downstream products such as furniture.

According to him documentation is only requested for wood raw material. Mr Sobur estimated that if the SVLK requirements for downstream products were removed furniture exports would rise.


Wood product exports to Australia to rise due to EPA

The Indonesian manufacturing industry will have a greater opportunities to increase exports to Australia following the signing of Indonesia-Australia Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) according to the Minister of Industry, Airlangga Hartarto.

Indonesian Trade Minister Enggartiasto Lukita and Australian Minister of Trade, Tourism and Investment, Simon Birmingham, signed the agreement in the presence of Indonesian Vice President, Jusuf Kalla. Indonesia’s exports to Australia will likely increase as Australia has committed to eliminate import duties. Among the Indonesian products whose exports could rise are wooden furniture.



Cooperative efforts to eliminate illegal logging

In early March, a workshop approved by the Republic of the Union of Myanmar Ministry of Foreign Affairs and supported by the Natural Resources Division of the US Department of Justice was held in Myanmar aimed at strengthening government efforts on combating illegal timber harvesting and subsequent trade in illegal products.

It is understood that representatives from the US Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, INTERPOL and the UN Office of Drugs and Crime participated along with representatives from domestic law enforcement agencies such as the Forest Department, Myanmar Police Force, Custom Department and Attorney Generals Department as well as NGOs, CSOs and academics.

A representative from the Myanmar Forest Certification Committee explained the latest developments in establishing and operating the Myanmar Timber Legality Assurance System. 

According to participants the impression gained was that the US administration is debating the possibility of creating a mechanism similar to the EU timber regulation to complement the Lacey Act since the basis of the EUTR and Lacey Act is different.

Efforts by the government to eliminate illegal logging continue. Between October 2018 and January 2019 5,112 tonnes of illegal timber (including 2,842 tonnes of teak) was seized.


Myanmar Multi-Stake Holder Group continues work on VPA preparations

Although the UK Department for International Development (DFID) has suspended funding for VPA negotiations, the Myanmar Multi-Stake Holder Group is continuing activities although the lack of UK support has slowed the momentum of discussions. 

There is no clear indication from either side how the VPA negotiations can be restarted.



Panel product price index dips slightly

India’s official wholesale price index for all commodities (Base: 2011-12=100) for January 2019, released by the Office of the Economic Adviser to the government, fell to 119.2 from 120.1 for the previous month.

The index for manufactured wood and cork products fell slightly mainly due to lower prices of plywood veneers and other panels. However, prices for sawnwood and blockboard inched higher in January.

The annual rate of inflation based on monthly WPI in January 2019 stood at 2.76 percent compared to 3.84 percent for December 2018.


No more GSP in US for Indian furniture exporters

The US has said it intends to end India’s Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) facility. 

The GSP is one of the oldest trade preference initiatives aimed at promoting economic growth in developing countries through duty-free entry for designated exports.

This move by the US would impact India’s export competitiveness for a range of products including furniture.

Commenting on the US move the President of the Federation of Indian Export Organisations pointed out that, currently, Indian exporters enjoy tariff preference on about a third of the full range of products and that the tariff advantage averages around four percent.



Major economic indicator dips for third month

Private-sector machinery orders fell over five percent in January from the previous month according to the latest news from the Cabinet Office. 

The trend in machinery orders is an indicator of capital expenditure by Japanese companies and as such reflects business prospects.

The January decline in orders was the third consecutive monthly decline.


Economy into reverse once again

In a reversal of its earlier claim on the Japanese economy, the country had enjoyed six years and two months of sustained growth, the longest since the end of World War II, now the Cabinet Office has downgraded its assessment saying the economy has been in negative growth since the end of 2018 signalling a technical recession.

It now seems that Japan’s economic expansion may have peaked several months before January. The main reason for the abrupt change is the slowdown of the Chinese economy which is having a heavy impact on Japan and has resulted in the government downgrading its assessment of industrial output for the first time in more than three years.


Workers likely to see smaller pay rise this year

Rengo, The Japanese Trade Union Confederation and most unions have been calling for increases in base pay in negotiations with employers. 

Rengo demanded a further two percent increase in base which, if accepted would be the fourth consecutive year of increases but the employers are in no mood to agree it appears.

In an interview the head of the Japan Business Federation (Keidanren) said the government should avoid trying to be specific on how much companies should raise wages.

Companies have increased wage hikes in each of the past three years but this has never been at a level considered necessary to drive up inflation.

Higher pay for workers has been a key part of the government’s economic growth strategy which is based on the philosophy that improved pay will lift consumption and drive prices higher, but this has not proven very successful so far and with the prospects of a consumption tax rise later this year prospects for boosting consumption have dimmed.


Consumer confidence suffers triple whammy

Consumer confidence in Japan continues to weaken and the index released by the Cabinet Office shows confidence and willing ness to buy durable goods such as furniture at the lowest level since November 2016.

This underlines the sentiment of both consumers and manufactures regarding prospects for the Japanese economy at a time when tough trade talks with the US are about to begin, economic growth in China has slowed driving down imports from Japan and the likelihood that the consumption tax will be raised in October this year.


Wooden door imports

The value of Japan’s January imports of wooden doors (HS 441820) were little changed from January 2018, but compared to December 2018, there was a 10 percent increase in the value of imports.

Four supply countries accounted for around 90 percent of all Japan’s wooden door imports, China (60%), Philippines (18%), Indonesia (7%) and Malaysia (5%). 


Wooden window imports

After falling sharply in December following a surge in imports in November 2018 the value of imports steadied in January coming in at around the average for the previous year. 

Year-on-year, January 2019 wood window imports (HS441810) rose 12 percent but were little changed from levels in December 2018.

In January 2019 the top suppliers were China (33%), US (19%) Sweden (17%) and the Philippines (15%) representing over 80 percent of the value of all shipments of wooden windows to Japan.


Assembled wooden flooring imports

Year-on-year the value of Japan’s January 2019 imports of assembled wooden flooring (HS441871-79) dipped 27 percent but, month-on-month the value of imports rose 25 percent.

In January 2019, three products accounted for all wooden floor imports, HS441873 (16%), HS 441875 (64%) and HS441879 (20%). As in previous months HS441875 accounted for most of the wooden floor imports with shippers in China, Thailand and Indonesia accounting for 61 percent, 12 percent and 11 percent respectively.


Plywood imports

As was the case in 2018, three supply countries continued to account for over 85 percent of Japan’s imports of plywood in January 2019.Malaysia, Indonesia and China dominate plywood imports but shippers in Vietnam are steadily securing market share.

Year-on-year, the volume of Japan’s January 2019 imports of plywood (HS441210-39 were down nine percent, but compared the volume of imports in December there was a steep rise in January imports due mainly to a 34 percent rise in shipments from Malaysia (68,000 cubic metres in December 2018 to 91,200 in January 2019).

January shipments from China were little changed year-on-year and month-on-month but Indonesian shipments were down 17 percent compared to January 2018 and were down11 percent compared to a month earlier.

HS441231 is the main category of plywood imports into Japan accounting for over 80 percent of all arrivals in January 2019.



Manufacturing index weakens further

In February 2019 China's manufacturing purchasing managers index (PMI) was 49.2 percent, a decline from the previous month.

The official PMI of large-sized enterprises was 51.5 percent, a slight improvement on the previous month but for medium and small enterprises the index was below 50 signalling a worsening situation.

This is the third straight month that the PMI has fallen below 50 for the SMEs. A reading above 50 signals expansion in the sector, while one below 50 indicates contraction on a monthly basis.

At the opening of China's parliament, Li Keqiang warned the country faces "a tough struggle," forecasting slower growth of 6-6.5 percent this year, down from a target of around 6.5 percent in 2018.

Growth in China is affected by the trade dispute with the US and to deal with the slowdown the government plans to boost spending, increase foreign firms' access to its markets and cut taxes. 

Mr Li said the government would cut around 2 trillion yuan in taxes and company fees as well as reduce the VAT for the transportation and construction sectors.


Calls to eliminate consumption tax on wood flooring

At a seminar in Nanxun, Zhejiang Province on 26 February 2019 hosted by the China Timber and Wood Products Distribution Association (CTWPDA), representatives from the Zhejiang Flooring Association and Nanxun District Flooring Association called for the elimination of consumption tax on wooden flooring.

Many leading flooring companies took part in the seminar and their reasoning behind the call for elimination of consumption tax on wooden flooring was because the original intention behind the tax was to help save and protect natural forest resources in China but now there is a country wide ban on logging natural forest.

This tax played a role in protecting China’s natural forest resources but continued collection of the consumption tax on wood flooring has deviated from its initial intention because flooring is now made of imported wood and domestic plantation timber.

At present, the profitable operation of wood processing plants is of concern because of rising production and labour costs, high taxes and fees and declining sales. Abolishing the consumption tax on wooden flooring would boost sales and help enterprises improve international competitiveness, expand international market share and compete with foreign companies.


Up-dated China-Chile FTA

The up-dated China-Chile Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and Supplementary Agreement on Trade in Services came into effect on 1 March 2019. 

The first China-Chile FTA was signed in 2005 and aimed at promoting cooperation in services and investments again in November 2016 the FTA was upgraded.

China will gradually eliminate tariffs on wood products over the next three years and Chile will has abolished tariffs on textiles, clothing, home appliances and sugar products.

In all, some 98 percent of these products will eventually be tariff free. This FTA with Chile is the most recent after the China-ASEAN FTA and the first with a Latin American country.

Under the agreement further bilateral economic and trade cooperation will be explored to enhance the level of trade liberalisation and build a stronger strategic partnership between the two countries.


Consumption of sawn rubberwood

The annual consumption of sawn rubberwood in China is estimated at around 6 million cubic metres with some 80 percent being imported from Thailand. The imported rubberwood is sawn, treated and dried in Thailand before being shipped to China.

Secondary processing takes place in China for the production of joinery and furniture. Some finger jointing processes are completed in Thailand.

Analysts suggest that 45 percent of the imported rubberwood is used for furniture manufacturing with 24 percent for wooden doors and 26 percent for cabinets. Most of the balance is said to be used for flooring.



Partial rebound in EU tropical timber imports in 2018

EU imports of tropical wood products rebounded in 2018 following a dip in 2017. The pace of tropical wood product imports increased in the second half of 2018 after a slow start to the year.

In total, the EU imported 2.09 million metric tonnes (MT) of tropical products listed in HS Chapter 44 (excluding fuelwood, wood waste and chips) in 2018, six percent more than in 2017. The total value of imports was €2.23 billion in 2018, 4.4 percent more than the previous year.

In 2018, there were gains in EU imports of tropical sawnwood, charcoal, mouldings/decking, joinery products, plywood and logs. These gains were partly offset by a decline in imports of tropical veneers, flooring, and other processed products.


8% rise in EU imports of tropical sawnwood in 2018

Despite a slow start to the year, EU imports of tropical sawnwood were 716,400 MT in 2018, eight percent more than in 2017. Import value also increased, by 10 percent to €720 million.

A significant amount of tropical sawnwood arrived into the EU from Cameroon in the second half of 2018, taking the total import from that country to 253,400 MT, five percent more than in 2017.

EU tropical sawnwood imports also increased from most other leading supply countries in 2018, including Brazil (+24% to 104,400 MT), Malaysia (+3% to 99,400 MT), Gabon (+14% to 91,200 MT), Congo (+13% to 47,400 MT), Ghana (+15% to 15,100 MT), Indonesia (+42% to 14,500 MT), DRC (+5% to 13,500 MT) and Myanmar (+72% to 9,200 MT).

These gains offset declining imports from Côte d'Ivoire (-10% to 29,400 MT) and Suriname (-8% to 5,900 MT).

The rise in imports from Indonesia, which only allows exports of S4S lumber, may be partly due to alterations in the HS codes used to record imports from Indonesia following introduction of FLEGT licensing.

The rise in EU imports of sawnwood from Indonesia is offset by a similar decline in imports of mouldings from the country.

In 2018, tropical sawn hardwood imports increased nine percent to 247,100 MT in Belgium, bolstered by strong growth in the second half of the year. Imports also increased in the Netherlands (+31% to 135,500 MT).

In 2018, around 53 percent of all EU tropical sawn wood imports arrived into either Belgium or the Netherlands, up from 50 percent the previous year, highlighting the rising role played by importers in these two countries in distribution of tropical hardwoods to the wider EU market.

Nevertheless, during 2018 direct imports of tropical sawn wood recovered some of the ground lost in previous years in France (+7% to 79,900 MT), Italy (+12% to 72,300 MT), Germany (+12% to 29,500 MT) and Denmark (+7% to 13,900 MT).

These gains offset a 16% decline to 51,800 MT in the UK, a six percent fall to 36,300 MT in Spain, a two percent decline to 22,700 MT in Portugal, and a 15% downturn to 8,900 MT in Ireland.


EU imports of tropical logs rise 11% in 2018

After a sharp downturn in 2017, EU imports of tropical logs recovered some lost ground in 2018 but were still at historically very low levels. Imports of 111,700 MT in 2018 were 11 percent greater than the previous year.

The value of tropical logs imported by the EU also increased, by five percent to €55.7 million. As for sawnwood, EU imports of tropical logs picked up pace in the second half of 2018 after a slow start to the year.

EU imports of tropical logs increased from Congo, the leading supplier, rising seven percent to 29,600 MT in 2018. There was also a significant increase in EU log imports from DRC (+20% to 21,100 MT), CAR (+78% to 21,000 MT), Liberia (+69% to 5,500 MT), and Guyana (+56% to 1,300 MT).

These gains offset declining imports from Angola, from over 5,000 MT in 2017 to negligible levels in 2017, Cameroon (-6% to 17,200 MT), Equatorial Guinea (-21% to 5,900 MT) and Suriname (-37% to 1,300 MT).

Most of the gain in EU imports of tropical logs in 2018 was concentrated in France (+10% to 39,800 MT) and Belgium (+40% to 30,100 MT). Imports of tropical logs were very slow in Portugal in the first half of 2018 but increased in the second half of the year.

In total, Portugal imported 19,400 MT of tropical logs in 2018, two percent more than the previous year. Italy’s imports also increased, by three percent to 10,400 MT in 2018.


EU tropical decking imports picked up pace in last quarter of 2018

EU imports of tropical mouldings (which included both interior mouldings and exterior decking products) increased nine percent to 170,100 MT in 2018, with the pace of trade picking up in the last quarter of the year. Import value increased 13 percent to €255.7 million.

A 26 percent rise in EU imports of mouldings from Brazil to 70,800 MT in 2018 offset a 12 percent decline in imports from Indonesia to 61,200 MT. As noted earlier, the latter decline may be partly due to alterations in the HS codes used to record imports from Indonesia since introduction of FLEGT licensing.

There was a sharp rise in EU imports of mouldings from several smaller suppliers of this commodity in 2018, including Malaysia (+30% to 11,600 MT), Peru (+66% to 8,900 MT), Bolivia (+94% to 5,200 MT), and Vietnam (+112% to 1,300 MT).

In 2018, imports of tropical mouldings increased 36 percent in France to 47,700 MT, 11 percent in Belgium to 28,800 MT, 12 percent in Italy to 7,100 MT and 11 percent in Denmark to 4,700 MT.

These gains were offset by a seven percent decline in imports in the Netherlands, to 25,400 MT, and an eight percent decline in the UK, to 10,500 MT. Imports were at the same level as the previous year in Germany (36,300 MT).


EU tropical veneer trade picked up pace in closing months of 2018

After a very slow start to the year, the pace of EU tropical veneer imports picked up dramatically in the second half of 2018, particularly from Gabon, the largest supplier.

In total, EU imports of tropical veneer fell 1.3 percent to 140,400 MT in 2018. Import value fell four percent to €179.7 million. Imports from Gabon were down 13% by the end of 2018, at 61,100 MT, having trailed by more than 30 percent after the first six months when trade was severely disrupted by the financial difficulties at Rougier.

In 2018, the decline in EU veneer imports from Gabon was partly offset by rising imports from Cote d’Ivoire (+14% to 30,700 MT), Cameroon (+28% to 19,100 MT) and Congo (+ 15% to 11,100 MT). Imports fell from several smaller suppliers including Ghana (-10% to 5,000 MT), Equatorial Guinea (-2% to 4,400 MT) and Indonesia (-18% to 2,600 MT).

In 2018, imports of tropical veneer in France, the largest EU market, were down six percent at 48,900 MT, and also declined 14 percent to 10,800 MT in Greece, and fell 13 percent to 5,100 MT in Germany. Imports of tropical veneer strengthened in South Western Europe in the second half of 2018, finishing the year up 2.4 percent in Italy at 33,100 MT and up 20 percent at 25,200 MT in Spain.


EU direct imports of plywood from the tropics down 5% in 2018

The EU imported 327,200 MT of tropical plywood in 2018, two percent more than in 2017. Import value increased two percent to €290.9 million in 2018.

Direct EU imports of plywood from tropical countries decreased 5% to 192,100 MT in 2018. While imports from Indonesia increased 6% to 93,400 MT, imports from Malaysia fell 16 percent to 51,800 MT, imports from Gabon were down 22 percent at 13,300 MT, and imports from Brazil fell 17 percent to 9,300 MT.

Although still only minor suppliers, during 2018 there was a significant 133 percent increase in EU imports of plywood from Vietnam, to 11,900 MT, and a 22% increase from Paraguay to 4,900 MT.

The EU imported 121,900 MT of plywood faced with tropical hardwood from China in 2018, ending the year 15 percent up on the previous year following a surge in the last quarter.

Imports from China earlier in 2018 were disrupted to some extent by tough new national environmental controls which forced Chinese mills to interrupt production to upgrade or replace emission and waste treatment technology.

The EU also imported 13,100 MT of plywood faced with tropical hardwood from other non-tropical countries in 2018, three percent more than in 2017. Much of the gain was due to a 115 percent increase in imports from Russia, to 5,000 MT.

The UK imported 163,100 MT of tropical plywood in 2018, five percent more than the previous year.

The UK is the main EU destination for tropical hardwood faced plywood from China and was also importing larger volumes of Indonesian plywood in 2018.

Last year, tropical plywood imports also increased in the Netherlands (+6% to 33,100 MT) and Denmark (+7% to 3,500 MT).

However, these gains were partly offset by falling tropical plywood imports in Belgium (-6% to 49,000 MT), Germany (-1% to 26,300 MT), France (-7% to 19,300 MT), and Italy (-2% to 17,900 MT).


Indonesia, Vietnam and Congo boost share of EU tropical joinery imports

EU imports of tropical joinery products (excluding flooring) increased seven percent to 140,800 MT in 2018. Import value increased two percent to €270 million.

This category includes a range of wood products, but mainly doors, laminated kitchen tops, and window scantlings from the tropics.

In quantity terms, imports from Indonesia, by far the EU’s largest tropical supplier of joinery products, increased eight percent to 76,800 MT in 2018.

There was also a 59 percent increase in EU imports of joinery products from Vietnam, to 13,800 MT. Imports from Congo increased from negligible levels to 2,400 MT. These gains offset a three percent decline in imports from Malaysia to 39,600 MT.

Imports of tropical joinery products in the UK, the largest European destination for this product group, notably of doors from Indonesia, increased 16 percent to 61,300 MT in 2018.

Last year, imports of tropical joinery products increased 23 percent to 17,700 MT in Belgium and were up 28 percent to 12,700 MT in France. However, imports fell nine percent to 34,300 MT in the Netherlands and declined 16 percent to 8,600 MT in Germany.


Another fall in EU imports of tropical flooring

EU imports of flooring products from tropical countries fell a further 16 percent to 25,900 MT in 2018, continuing a long-term decline in response to tough competition from European and Chinese manufacturers and non-wood alternatives, fashion trends favouring temperate timbers, supply constraints, and challenges of EUTR conformance.

The value of EU imports of tropical wood flooring declined 13 percent to €59.1 million in 2018.

Most of the downturn in 2018 was due to a 32 percent fall in imports of hardwood flooring products from Brazil, to 5,200 MT. However, imports also fell nine percent from Malaysia, to 8,500 MT, seven percent from Indonesia, 6,900 MT, and 36 percent from Peru, to 900 MT.

In 2018, imports fell dramatically in the two largest EU markets for tropical wood flooring, declining 36 percent to 5,600 MT in France and 19 percent to 3,300 MT in Belgium.

However, this decline was partially offset by a 42 percent increase in imports in Denmark, to 2,700 MT, and a 21 percent increase in Spain, also to 2,700 MT.


North America

US hardwood plywood imports fell in 2018

The volume of US imports of hardwood plywood declined by five percent in December, ending 2018 with a total volume for the year of 2.66 million cubic metres, down 10 percent from 2017.

December was the strongest month of the year for imports from China, up 62 percent from November. But the figures are still well below last December’s as the volume of Chinese hardwood plywood coming to the US ended the year down more than 70 percent.

Indonesia, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Cambodia all showed gains of more than 50 percent in 2018, replacing market share previously held by China. Despite the decline in the volume of imports, the value of hardwood plywood imports for 2018 ended at US$1.9 billion, which was up 10 percent from 2017.


Sawn tropical hardwood imports fell in 2018

US imports of sawn tropical hardwood ended 2018 relatively flat. The total volume of imports in 2018 was down nine percent from the previous year.

Imports of balsa, mahogany, virola, and acajou d’Afrique all fell by more than 20 percent in 2018. On the other hand, imports of Jatoba nearly doubled in 2018 while Keruing imports rose by over 30 percent.

Among the top US trading partners, imports from Ecuador fell 23 percent, imports from Cameroon were down 20 percent and imports from Brazil dropped five percent in 2018. In contrast, imports from Malaysia rose by 40 percent in 2018.

Imports of sawn tropical hardwood from Canadian followed the downward trend, falling 13 percent in 2018. Imports of sapelli were down 34 percent; virola, imbuia and balsa imports were down 26 percent and iroko imports fell 50 percent.

December imports of sawn tropical hardwood dropped 22 percent year-on-year. For the year, 2018 imports from Canada closed at a total of US$17.3 million for the year.


Strong December for tropical veneer imports

US imports of tropical hardwood veneer grew by 39 percent in December, ending a string of monthly declines and this lifted 2018 imports well above those in 2017.

Imports of tropical veneers in 2018 expanded 26 percent over the previous year, with Italy, China, and India showing the greatest increases. Imports from key African countries (Ghana, Cameroon and Cote d’Ivoire) all fell in 2018.


Flooring imports strong in 2018

While flat in December, US imports of hardwood flooring ended 2018 up 44 percent at a value of US$74.7 million.

Imports from China (up 71%), Malaysia (up 79%) and Brazil (up 50%), all contributed to the rise. Imports from Indonesia fell by 20 percent for the year.

Imports of assembled flooring were up by four percent in December and grew by 11 percent in 2018. China and Indonesia saw the greatest gains while imports from Brazil fell by 71 percent for the year.


Moulding imports rise in December

Despite a sharp rise in December, US imports of hardwood mouldings ended the year down from 2017. Moulding imports at US$177 million in 2018 were down four percent from the previous year.

A more than 20 percent drop in imports from Canada contributed to the loss. Imports from Malaysia rebounded from a weak November to end the year ahead of 2017 totals by eight percent. Imports from China ended the year up by six percent.


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