In September Ministers of Forests, Industries and Environment in the Central Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) met in an effort to stimulate domestic processing of wood products in order to raise the contribution of the forestry sector to GDP. The communique and press release from the meeting says member countries of the Congo Basin have taken the unanimous decision to end log exports from January 2022, reported by todaynewsafrica.com.

The meeting also agreed an effort to harmonised forestry tax systems in member states.

The domestic press has commented on the latest meeting and Todaynewsafrica.com has pointed out that some CEMAC member countries already have legislation to this effect. Gabon endorsed a ban in 2010 and Equatorial Guinea announced such a measure in 2019. The Democratic Republic of Congo and Cameroon had aimed to introduce a log export ban but this is yet to be implemented.

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The Cabinet Office has reported Japan's consumer confidence improved in September by the second-largest margin ever. It was the biggest improvement since June this year and July 2004, when the index rose by 4.4 points on each occasion, the largest increase since the survey began on a monthly basis in April 2004.

The improvement was put down to the slowing rate of corona virus infections in the country and the government travel subsidy programme 'Go to' which aims to revive domestic tourism.

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The bedroom furniture market has been severely impacted by Covid-19, according to the latest report from AMA Research.

The Domestic Bedroom Furniture Market Report – UK 2020-2024 forecast that bedroom furniture sales will fall to £595 million in 2020, down by nearly a quarter (22 percent) from £760m in 2019.

The report blamed the fact that the Covid-19 pandemic, which has changed consumer buying habits with homeowners prioritising the conversion of spare rooms into home offices rather than spare or guest bedrooms.

Good news for those retailers who have moved into selling home offices and studies but bad news for bedroom furniture sales.

The bedroom furniture market had been on an upward trend, with sales up 6 percent in 2019 (£760m) from £715m in 2018. There were also increases in sales of freestanding and fitted bedroom furniture, which accounted for 27 percent of the market by value. Modular furniture also showed an increase in popularity, according to the report – a trend likely to be sustained by the trend towards smaller houses.

The report concluded that prospects for the next four years remained uncertain, “with the end of the pandemic still not in sight and the outcome of the ongoing Brexit negotiations yet to be determined”.

The report forecast that post-Covid, sales over the next few years would regain their upward trajectory. The AMA graph shows that forecasts suggest sales would rise by 10 percent to around £655m in 2021, £695m in 2022, reaching £720m in 2023.

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The Province is announcing changes to lumber regulations which are aimed at increasing domestic production, according to energeticcity.ca.

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Construction input prices expanded 0.6% in August over the previous month, according to an Associated Builders and Contractors analysis of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Producer Price Index data. Nonresidential construction input prices increased 0.3% for the month, reported from LBM Journal.

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The Timber Packaging & Pallet Confederation (Timcon) has raised concerns regarding mounting pressure on the availability of wood which is likely to impact prices, according to fruitnet.com.

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The Canadian forestry industry secured a victory in the long-standing softwood lumber dispute with the United States, reported by Huddle.

The World Trade Organization has unanimously ruled that U.S. countervailing duties introduced in 2017 against Canadian softwood lumber are inconsistent with the WTO obligations of the United States.

The panel agreed with Canada’s argument the U.S. Department of Commerce made a number of errors in determining the benchmark Canadian timber prices it used to determine whether producers north of the border were paying adequate stumpage fees to the provinces.

Federal Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade Mary Ng says U.S. duties on Canadian softwood lumber are completely unwarranted and unfair and the decision confirms Canada isn’t subsidizing the softwood lumber industry.

The U.S. has 60 days to appeal but the decision likely won’t see the light of day as the appeal body needs a quorum of three to make a decision.

Only one person currently sits on the board and the United States has blocked attempts to appoint new members.

“Canada remains unequivocal: U.S. duties on Canadian softwood lumber are completely unwarranted and unfair. This decision confirms that. Canada does not subsidize its softwood lumber industry, and that is why we have challenged these U.S. duties at the WTO and under the former North American Free Trade Agreement,” said Ng in a statement.

“Canada expects the United States to comply with its WTO obligations. U.S. duties on Canadian softwood lumber must not persist. They have caused unjustified harm to Canadian industry and U.S. consumers alike. U.S. homebuilders rely on Canadian lumber, and the current record-high lumber prices are hurting the economic recovery in both countries. Right now, during these difficult times, businesses and people in both our countries need support, not the burden of additional taxes.

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According to TTJ Softwood Specialist, the industry-wide “Wood CO2ts less” campaign is now under way to educate the timber industry, construction sector and wider society.

The campaign, developed by Swedish Wood in cooperation with Wood for Good and the Confederation of Timber Industries (CTI), has been signed up to all by UK timber associations.

The impetus for the campaign came from a presentation at the Institution of Structural Engineers by government adviser Professor Gideon Henderson, who said the government would need to rely on carbon capture to reach net zero. He identified greater use of wood in construction as one simple and largely cost-free way of capturing carbon.

This is something that all wood-related companies need to understand and get behind – it’s a massive topic for now and the future but we can’t expect everyone to just get it. It’s going to take a concerted amount of wood evangelism to make timber’s low carbon message fully heard and understand that we all have a role to play.

Members of trade associations can help the campaign by use of the campaign logo at a nominal cost.

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According to LBM Journal, National Association of Home Builders analysis of government data has found that new single-family and multifamily residential construction used roughly $94.93 billion in building products in 2019. Although the vast majority of the $94.93 billion was produced domestically, supporting jobs in the U.S. manufacturing sector, about 6.4% ($6.12 billion) was imported from other countries. It may seem a relatively small number, but the 6.4% of the products that are imported can be important in plugging gaps in supply and preventing spikes in input prices, NAHB reports.

Cement and concrete products used in residential construction topped the list with $11.71 billion used in 2019. Architectural and structural metals were in a close second place at $11.17 billion. Asphalt and roofing products made of petroleum and coal registered at $7.73 billion and plastics products used in construction (piping and plumbing fixtures, polystyrene foam insulation, etc.) came in at $6.95 billion.

Wood products—everything from plywood and EWP, sawn lumber, and treated wood—accounted for just more than $10 billion, NAHB reports, adding a reminder that the figures from 2019 do not include this year’s major increase in lumber prices, which NAHB said now accounts for a $16,000 increase in the price of a new home.

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According to EUWID, in the fourth quarter Spain imported a volume of 10,451m³ oak lumber; this represents a 21 percent decrease vis à vis the comparative quarter of 2018. The decline in imports recorded in the second (-25 percent) and third quarters (-7 percent) therefore continued. In the first quarter imports had increased by 11 percent. Over the entire period of 2019 imports thus declined by 12 percent to a total volume of 41,606m³. The import value decreased by almost 10 percent to €40.4m, and thus at a less significant rate.

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