The EU imported 302,828cu.m of tropical plywood in the first nine months of 2015, 2% less than the same period in 2014. According to ITTO, EU demand for tropical plywood in 2015 has been negatively affected by the weakness of the euro relative to the US dollar, slow growth in the building sector in most European countries, as well as lower prices and short lead times for competing temperate plywood products from Europe, Russia and China.
Imports of tropical plywood into the UK were 109,093cu.m in the first nine months of 2015, 4% less than the same period in 2014. Imports also declined into Belgium (-6.7% to 53,569cu.m), France (-1.7% to 35,746 cu.m), Italy (-2.6% to 19,384cu.m) and Germany (-17.2% to 17,705cu.m) during this period.
Of the six main tropical plywood consuming countries in Europe, only the Netherlands increased imports during the first nine months of 2015, by 20% to 48,471cu.m. This aligns with the trend in imports of other tropical wood products into the Netherlands, including sawn wood, joinery and flooring, all of which have increased significantly in 2015. After several years of decline, the Netherlands market for tropical wood has bottomed out and appears to be on the way to sustained recovery.
EU plywood imports from Malaysia fall 10%
Much of the decline in EU imports of tropical plywood during the first nine months of 2015 was due to lower deliveries from Malaysia, which fell 10% to 78,148cu.m. Tropical plywood imports from Indonesia, at 82,053 cu.m,, were close to the level of the previous year (Chart 2).
Indonesia’s comparatively good performance is mainly due to recovery in the Netherlands and increasing sales in the UK. However Indonesian plywood has been losing market share in Germany this year, both to alternative European and Russian plywood and to wood plastic composites. Of the three remaining large suppliers of tropical plywood to the EU, imports in the first nine months of 2015 increased from China (+1,9% to 69,346cu.m) and Gabon (+4.8% to 30,627cu.m) and remained stable from Brazil (at 11.646cu.m).