Countries in the MENA region imported 10% of the global traded softwood lumber in 2015, becoming a major destination for softwood lumber producers in Europe. Last year, major trade flows were from the Nordic countries, Russia to Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Algeria, according to WRQ.
Import volumes to MENA has increased year-on-year in the past decade, except during the Egyptian Revolution in 2013 when shipments fell 15%. The political stability after the revolution saw nearly all countries in the region expanding their importation of lumber.
From 2013 to 2015, total import volumes to MENA were up 26%, reaching over 11 million m3 in 2015 with Egypt as the dominant destination, accounting to 45% of total imports. This was followed by Algeria and Saudi Arabia with Algeria doubling its import volume and growing the most in the past five years.
Finland, Sweden and Russia are the three dominant supplying countries to MENA, together accounting for 73% of all lumber shipped to the region in 2015. Other larger suppliers in Europe include Romania and Slovakia, while shipments from North America and Latin America account for only a very small share.
Prices for lumber exported to Egypt from the two major supplying countries, Finland and Sweden, have dropped quite substantially in the past two years. The average price for Swedish Spruce has fallen the most by over 50% since 2014. The increase in lower-cost Russian lumber in the Egyptian market has pushed prices down mostly in Egypt than in countries such as Algeria and Saudi Arabia where Russian lumber exporters still do not have a presence.