Expected wood shortage in wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

In 2021, the EU27 imported wood and wooden furniture with a total value of US$6.71 billion from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, nearly one third of total import value of these products.

Total EU27 import value of wood and wooden furniture products from all countries, both tropical and non-tropical, excluding intra-EU trade, in 2021 was $21.34bn, 40% more than the previous year. Imports were up by 42% from China to $5.72bn, by 63% from Russia to $3.28bn, by 63% from Belarus to $1.70bn, and by 55% from Ukraine to $1.74bn.

Since the majority of wood product importers from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine are of relatively lower value primary products, particularly softwood and lighter hardwood logs, sawnwood, and plywood, their significance is even greater in terms of the sheer quantity of wood fibre. In 2021, of the total EU27 import quantity of 26.4 million tonnes of wood and wooden furniture products, 14.1 million tonnes, which is 53%, derived from just these three countries.

Given the current situation in Ukraine, there is chance that the large majority of EU27 trade in wood products with Russia, Belarus and Ukraine will cease during 2021. On 2 Mar 2022, the EU imposed trade sanctions on Belarus covering timber alongside multiple other commodities.

EU sanctions on wood imports from Russia have yet to be announced, but on 10 March Russia’s Industry and Trade Ministry said that a ban on all wood and timber-related exports to “unfriendly countries”, including the EU, UK and US, would be introduced, to remain in place at least until the end of this year.

At the same time, the exclusion of selected Russian banks from Swift, the financial messaging system that enables most international bank payments, has already effectively shut out a lot of Russian firms from international trade.

EU companies are also announcing voluntary withdrawal from the trade with Russia and Belarus. A particularly notable example is IKEA, for which Russia is the second largest supplier of wood products, after Poland.

Source: ITTO