Global exports of American hardwood lumber were up 10 percent in value and 11 percent in volume in 2016, with China the number one market accounting for over half of all shipments, according to data released by the U.S. agencies. In Southeast Asia, markets were steady with Vietnam importing 72 percent of all shipments to ASEAN countries by value.
Worldwide exports of hardwood lumber from the USA amounted to 3.91 million cubic metres valued at almost US$2.3 billion. Canada was the second largest market, making Vietnam the second largest outside North America. Exports to Vietnam amounted to over US$157 million, a two percent increase, on the previous year on a volume up 8 percent.
Leading species was tulipwood (yellow poplar) which was up 41 percent in volume and 29 percent in value. White and red oak, together with American black walnut, were the top four species, with a marked upward tendency in red oak. Other notable species were cherry, red alder, ash and maple. There was growth in shipments of hickory from a very small base, reflecting the increase in flooring production in Vietnam. Most species however, except red oak, are not back to their peak year 2014.
Other markets in Southeast Asia were slightly down by two or three percent only, with Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore importing a further US$60 million, bringing the total for the ASEAN region to US$217.7 million. Indonesia, Thailand and Malaysia were the 10th 11th and 12th global markets – all with white oak as their number one species accounting for 54 percent, 35 percent and 48percent of U.S. hardwood lumber shipments respectively.
American hardwood log shipments globally were down 5 percent in value at US$717.9 million but up 4 percent in volume at over two million cubic metres. All ASEAN markets reduced their imports of U.S. logs, except Thailand, although volumes are already significantly lower than hardwood sawn lumber from the USA.
This article was first published in Panels & Furniture Asia (Mar/Apr Issue).