Total EU plywood imports in 2017 were down seven per cent to 2.159 million metric tonnes (MT), sparked by contraction in the ‘other hardwood’ plywood category, with imports down over 20 per cent from 1.346 million MT to 1.076 million MT.
Analysts say part of this was likely due to a revision of customs product codes in 2017, which saw a large number of species previously labelled ‘other hardwoods’ now identified as ‘tropical’.
However, this is understood not to be the only reason for the downturn, as tropical and softwood plywood imports increased by a combined total of only 115,000 MT in 2017; the former rising from 262,000 MT to 320,000 MT, the latter from 707,000 MT to 760,000 MT.
China overtook Indonesia and Malaysia as the largest supplier of tropical hardwood to the EU with imports up 44,000 MT to 106,000 MT in 2017. This is likely to be due to the HS product code reclassification, as Chinese ‘mixed red hardwood’ plywood was most affected.
EU imports of Indonesian plywood were ahead 24 per cent in 2017, rising from 71,000 MT to 88,000 MT, while imports of Malaysian plywood dipped 15 per cent from 71,000 MT to 62,000 MT. Shipments of Gabon plywood fell 19 per cent from 21,000 MT to 17,000 MT.
The largest EU tropical plywood importer in 2017 was the UK, which increased shipments by 29 per cent from 120,000 MT to 155,000 MT.
Belgium came in second, with buying rising 21,000 MT to 52,000 MT. It took over from the Netherlands where imports fell 6,000 MT to 31,000 MT. Germany also bought more, a 35 per cent increase to 27,000 MT in 2017.