The total value of EU imports of wood products was 19.44 billion euro in 2018, 5.1% more than in 2017. This followed an increase of 2.4% to 18.49 billion euro in 2017. In 2018 EU import value was at the highest level since 2008 just before the global financial crises.
The rise in imports into the EU occurred despite slowing economic growth during 2018. According to the EU Winter 2019 Economic Forecast published on 7 February, economic activity in the EU moderated in the second half of last year as global trade growth slowed, uncertainty sapped confidence and output in some Member States was adversely affected by temporary domestic factors, including social tensions and uncertainty over fiscal policy and Brexit.
As a result, GDP growth in both the euro area and the EU likely slipped to 1.9% in 2018, down from 2.4% in 2017. Slowing economic growth fed through into a fall in the value of the euro and the British pound last year, both of which weakened against the U.S. dollar by around 8% during 2018. However, EU currencies remained strong relative to currencies in several key Eastern European supply countries, including Ukraine, Russia, and Turkey.
Both the euro and British pound strengthened by around 7% against the Russian rouble in 2018 and by over 25% against the Turkish lira. These exchange rate fluctuations generally favored EU imports from Eastern Europe and acted as a drag on imports from North America and Asia.
Considering individual products, the value of EU imports of wood furniture decreased by 1% to 6.35 billion euro in 2018 after a 7% rise in 2017. A dip in EU imports of wood furniture from China and Norway was offset by rising imports from Ukraine, Belarus, Bosnia, Serbia, Russia and Turkey.