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May 21, 2018

European oak market under intense pressure

European oak market under intense pressure

EU countries hit hardest by the Ukrainian ban, says the European Organisation of Sawmill Industries (EOS), are Romania, Slovakia, Poland and Austria, which between them in 2014 imported 1.4 million cu.m of Ukrainian roundwood.

At the same time, the European industry has faced temporary oak log and green lumber transit and export controls in Croatia. These were introduced last summer, ostensibly to prevent the spread of oak lace beetle (corythucha arcuata).

Raw timber was estimated to have accounted for a third of Croatia’s total €1.09 billion wood exports in 2016 and the export ban is reported to have left sawmill customers in the rest of the EU, notably Italy, short of material. It is also said to be causing green timber bottlenecks as, despite increased investment in kilning, including from Italian sawmillers, the Croatian industry does not have enough drying capacity to handle previously exported material.

Increasing wider EU concern about Croatia’s move have been reports in its press that the ban will assist its domestic processing and manufacturing sectors by reducing competition for raw materials, implying this was part of the original motivation.

The result of this combination of factors has been oak price rises, especially for logs.

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