Europe seems to be buying less mixed hardwood plywood. After a robust 2016, sales have slackened for products from China. Tropical hardwood plywood, however, has been rising this year.
EU imports of hardwood plywood peaked at 2.80 million cbm in November 2016, but this figure had fallen to 2.65 million cbm by July 2017.
During this period, imports of mixed hardwood plywood from China fell from 1.03 million cbm to 862,000 cbm. This decline in imports was partly offset by a rise in imports of tropical hardwood plywood from China from 124,000 cbm in November 2016 to 181,000 cbm in August 2017.
Direct imports of hardwood plywood from tropical countries also increased, from 356,000 cbm in November 2016 to 393,000 cbm in August 2017.
Between November 2016 and August 2017, there were significant gains from Indonesia and Brazil. Imports also increased from a range of smaller supplying countries including Vietnam, Thailand, and Morocco.
Shipments from Malaysia remained the same while that from Gabon fell from 38,000 cbm to 35,000 cbm.
Regulatory factors also appear to have had a significant impact on the EU hardwood plywood trade this year. EUTR has encouraged greater concentration of trade into a few larger suppliers with resources required to meet the due diligence requirements.
Indonesian plywood appears to have received a boost since issue of the first FLEGT licenses in November 2016 which allows import of Indonesian product without any further due diligence.
The increased technical demands of the EU Construction Product Regulation has also increased the trade’s awareness of the importance of accurate identification of species content for any product placed on the EU market.
The apparent rise in imports of tropical hardwood plywood into the EU from China may be at least partly due to more accurate identification of the actual species content.
This trend may also be partly due to an increased range of named species being specifically listed as “tropical non-coniferous” rather than “other nonconiferous” following an amendment to the Harmonised System (HS) of product codes used to compile trade data from January 2017.