Demand for softwood lumber in countries in Northern Africa and the Middle East has grown rapidly the past 10 years despite the fall in oil revenue and political instability in the region, accounting for over 10% of global softwood lumber trade in 2015.
The markets in Egypt, Algeria and Saudi Arabia especially have become major destinations for the exporting nordic countries and Russia, and can be expected to continue to grow in the coming years, according to the latest issue of the Wood Resource Quarterly.
The MENA region has become a major destination for European softwood lumber since mid-2000. Import volumes increased virtually every year over the 10-year period leading up to the Egyptian Revolution in 2013, when shipments to Egypt fell by 15%. When the political situation stabilised in Egypt, practically all countries in the region increased lumber trade.
From 2013 to 2015, total import volumes were up 26%, reaching over 11 million m3 in 2015. Egypt is the dominant destination for softwood lumber, accounting for 45% of the total imports, followed by Algeria and Saudi Arabia. Algeria grew the most the past five years with a doubling of its import volume.
Finland, Sweden and Russia are the three dominant supplying countries to the MENA region, 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 American and Latin America still account for a very small share.