In the first five months of this year, the EU27 imported 710,800 tonnes of tropical wood and wood furniture products with a total value of USD1.48b, respectively 17% and 27% less than the same period in 2022. The sharp downturn this year is mainly indicative of the very strong start to the year in 2022. Total EU27 imports of tropical wood and wood furniture in the first five months this year were closely aligned with the long-term average between 2013 and 2019 when trade was subdued but steady. For now, therefore, trade seems to have returned to more “normal” levels after the volatility during the COVID pandemic. While imports were reasonably robust between January and March this year, particularly in dollar terms, they slowed sharply in April before picking up again in May (Charts 1a and 1b).
Hardwood log availability is now coming under considerable pressure in Europe due to the combined effects of declining forest productivity in the face of climatic disturbances, rising log exports to China, and a wide range of new policy and regulatory measures. This has meant that prices for European hardwoods have remained relatively firm, particularly for oak, even as consumption is declining in the face of the economic slowdown.