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March 17, 2020

Second consecutive year of growth in EU tropical timber imports 

Second consecutive year of growth in EU tropical timber imports 

Despite a downturn in the last six months of 2019, EU imports of tropical wood products last year were greater than in 2018.

In 2019, the EU28 imported 2.13 million tonnes of tropical wood products (including all those in HS Chapter 44 except fuelwood, wood waste and chips) with a total value of €2.32 billion, respectively 1.5% and 3.2% greater than the previous year. This was the second consecutive year of import growth after a dip in 2017.

The marginal growth in imports in 2019 was driven mainly by a recovery in imports of sawnwood from Cameroon and of sawnwood and mouldings/decking from Brazil, particularly into Belgium, together with rising imports of a variety of joinery products (doors and laminates) from Indonesia and Malaysia. These gains offset falling imports of tropical logs, charcoal, plywood, and veneers last year.

When considering the longer-term trend, imports in 2019 are very much in line with the overall stasis in EU tropical wood trade after hitting an all-time low in 2013 following the financial crises. Since then EU imports have fluctuated within a narrow band around 2 million tonnes (Chart 1).

Over the last seven years, total EU imports of tropical sawnwood have fluctuated in the region of 750,000 tonnes without showing any strong upward or downward trend.

During this period, there has been a continuing decline in imports of tropical logs and flooring products.

However, these losses have been offset by rising EU imports of charcoal and a variety of laminated and other joinery products from tropical countries and a recovery in imports of tropical mouldings/decking and tropical hardwood faced plywood (although the latter is increasingly sourced from China and destined for the UK, which ceased to be an EU country on 31st January 2019).

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