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Daily News / Wood Products / Wood-based panels / China / Europe / Global
May 16, 2017

EU review highlights fragility of okoumé plywood sector

EU review highlights fragility of okoumé plywood sector

The EU renewed anti-dumping duties on imports of okoumé plywood manufactured in China on 7th April.

These duties were originally introduced by the EU in 2004 and would have lapsed after only five years had not an interested party requested the European Commission (EC) to initiate an expiry review.

In 2009, the European Panel Federation (EPF) requested a review which led the EU to extend the duties for another 5 years from January 2011. Near the end of that period, in October 2015, the EPF once again requested that the EC initiate an expiry review.

This new investigation led to the announcement of another 5-year extension from April 2017. The duties renewed on 7th April are unchanged from those originally imposed in November 2004, requiring payment of between 6.5% and 23.5% by four named Chinese manufacturers and 66.7% by all other Chinese manufacturers.

The four manufacturers paying lower duties had cooperated during the original anti-dumping investigation and shown that the “injury-margin” for their products was less than calculated by the EU for other Chinese manufacturers.

The review investigation carried by the EC – which focuses on the years 2012 to 2015 – is interesting for the insight it provides into the current extent and status of the EU okoumé plywood manufacturing sector. It reveals an industry that remains extremely fragile, suffering from very low profit margins, weak demand, and negligible levels of investment.

The EC concluded that although the sector’s financial position has improved slightly over the last 5 years, removal of the anti-dumping duties on equivalent Chinese products would lead to a “recurrence of injury” and threaten its survival.

The product covered by the anti-dumping duties and investigated by the EC is that falling within TARIC code 4412 31 10 10 and defined as “plywood consisting solely of sheets of wood, each ply not exceeding 6 mm thickness, with at least one outer ply of okoumé not coated by a permanent film of other materials”.

This definition captures both "full okoumé" plywood with okoumé throughout and combi plywood with at least one outer face of okoumé, the rest being made of other wood.

The product is used for a variety of end-uses in the EU, notably exterior joinery and carpentry applications for boarding, shutter boards, exterior basements and balustrades and riverside panelling, and more decorative purposes particularly in vehicles and yachts, and for furniture and doors.

The EC investigation involved a review of relevant trade and industry statistics and consultation with interested parties. Invitations to participate were issued to all known exporting producers in China.

However, only one company offered any information and this only to say that no okoumé plywood was manufactured during the review period. The EU also noted that input was requested from the Chinese authorities but no information was received.

As a result, the analysis relied heavily on questionnaire responses from five sampled plywood producers in the EU and from one producer in Morocco. The latter was identified as a suitable "analogue" country (producers in Turkey, another “analogue” country, did not respond to the questionnaire).

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