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EU-25: Massive drop of  hardwood primary wood produts imports during first quarter

06 July 2009

EU-25: Massive drop of hardwood primary wood produts imports during first quarter

The latest trade data shows that the volume of hardwood primary wood products (logs, rough sawn lumber, veneer and plywood) imported into the EU-25 group of countries from developing nations was down 48% during the first quarter of 2009 compared to the same period the previous year.
Imports during the first quarter of 2009 were also down 20% on the fourth quarter of 2008. The figures reinforce anecdotal reports of a collapse in forward buying of tropical hardwood products at the end of last year as importers responded to the credit crunch with radical steps to cut stocks.
The extremely low level of import during the first quarter of 2009, which follows on from a long period of declining imports which set in at the start of 2008, also suggests that EU stocks may now be at historically low levels. This factor, combined with clear signs that forward supplies are tightening, raises the prospect of supply shortfalls in the EU later this year. A recent TTJ hardwood market report notes that ‘nearly all contacts reported that production cutbacks have resulted in tight supply, which is getting worse. It wouldn’t take much of a pick-up in demand for prices to rise and shortages to kick in’. The report suggests that the shortfalls could be almost universal with respect to species, commenting that ‘75-80% of the supply areas are going to struggle to cope with any increases in demand’.