Sharp Fall in UK Tropical Wood Imports in 2020 Likely to Be Short-Lived. ITTO European Market Report 15th March 2021

Total UK tropical wood and wood furniture imports in 2020 were USD981 million, 23% less than the previous year (Chart 1a). It is no surprise that imports fell so precipitously, the UK being amongst the world’s worst affected countries by the COVID-19 pandemic last year at a time when there was already uncertainty due to the country’s departure from the EU. However, UK imports from tropical countries did suffer a larger decline in the UK market than products from other regions, largely due to supply side problems, particularly lack of and rising costs of freight space from South East Asia during the year. But underlying demand is strong in the UK and new opportunities may well open up for tropical suppliers in the UK over the long term.

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Sharp Fall in Tropical Share of European Wood Products Market During Pandemic. ITTO European Market Report 28th February 2021

Despite upheaval in the EU27+UK wood market and wider economy in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the total dollar value of EU27+UK imports of wood (HS44) and wood furniture (HS94) products fell only 4% to US$21.86 billion euro in 2020. In dollar terms, EU27+UK imports in 2020 were higher than during the 2015-2017 period and not significantly out of alignment with the trend of the previous 10 years (Chart 1).

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Unexpected Rise in EU27 Tropical Timber Imports in November. ITTO European Market Report 15th February 2021

Total EU27 (i.e. excluding the UK) import value of tropical wood and wood furniture products was US$2.75 billion between January and November last year, 10% less than the same period in 2019. This is a significantly higher level of import than forecast earlier in the year when the first waves of the COVID-19 pandemic hit the continent. Total import value in November was US$263 million, a 4% gain on the previous month and 6% more than the same month in 2019 (Chart 1). 

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Rebound in UK Tropical Wood Imports Slows in Closing Months of 2020. ITTO European Market Report 31st January 2021

The rebound in UK imports of tropical wood products as the first wave of the pandemic receded in summer last year slowed in the last quarter of 2020 as the country, like much of the rest of the Europe, reimposed lockdown measures in response to the second larger wave which hit at the start of the winter months. In addition to a slowdown in overall UK business activity at the end of 2020, there are also reports of severe supply problems in the UK building sector, including for products imported from South East Asia and China, due to limited container space and rising freight costs.   

Total value of UK imports of tropical wood and wood furniture months increased only slightly from US$98 million in October to US$100 million in November, but then receded again to US$95 million in November (Chart 1). Total UK tropical wood and wood furniture imports in the 11 months to November 2020 were US$892 million, 23% less than the same period in 2019.

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EU27 Tropical Timber Trade Faces Double Dip Recession. ITTO European Market Report 15th January 2021

Tropical timber logs.

Total EU27 (i.e. excluding the UK) import value of tropical wood and wood furniture products was US$2.48 billion between January and October last year, 12% less than in 2019. This is a significantly higher level of import than forecast earlier in the year when the first waves of the COVID-19 pandemic hit the continent leading to widespread lockdowns with severe implications for the EU27 economy and on the supply side in tropical countries.

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Major Implications for Timber Trade as Brexit Enters the Endgame. ITTO European Market Report 15th December 2020

European Market Report

The long drawn-out process of the UK breaking ties with the EU, which started with the referendum of July 2016, is finally in the endgame. Since formally leaving the bloc on 31 January 2020, the UK’s relationship with the EU has been governed by the Withdrawal Agreement. This has allowed the UK to continue on the same terms it had with the EU prior to departure during a so-called `transition period’.

This transition period will come to an end on 31st December and it is only then that the full impact of the UK’s departure from the EU, which so far has been muted by the transition arrangements, not to mention the pressing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic during 2020, will become apparent.

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TTJ Reports UK Hardwood Sales Improving. ITTO European Market Report 30th November 2020

UK hardwood market recovering.

The UK hardwood trade may not be back to normal, and there is continuing anxiety about the effect of a second COVID-19 wave, but the sector has seen sales improving since May. This is according to the latest November/December 2020 hardwood market report in the UK Timber Trades Journal (TTJ – www.ttjonline.com ).

“In April we were at 40% of normal turnover, but we hit 60% in May, 80% in June and July was a good month, not on budget, but ahead of last year,” said a UK importer-distributor. “It’s not business as usual yet, but we’re in a better place than anticipated four months ago.”

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Rebound in UK Imports Continued in September but Prospects Less Certain. ITTO European Market Report 15th November 2020

Harvesting of tropical timber in Ghana

UK imports of tropical wood and wood furniture products continued to rebound in September, with total value rising to USD97.6 million, 30% more than the previous month and the same level as in September 2019 (Chart 1). UK imports strengthened significantly in the third quarter, in line with the recovery in the broader economy and in construction activity and the housing market as lockdown measures eased during the period.

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EU27 Tropical Timber Imports Stronger Than Expected So Far In 2020. ITTO European Market Report 31st October 2020

man cutting wood DIY or construction

EU27 tropical timber imports are stronger than expected so far in 2020. The total EU27 (i.e. excluding the UK) import value of tropical wood and wood furniture products was US$1.98 billion between January and August this year, 14% less than in 2019. This is a significantly higher level of import than forecast earlier in the year with the “Great Lockdown” having a severe impact on the wider EU27 economy and on the supply side in tropical countries. The fact that EU27 trade in tropical wood timber products was cooling even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic makes this performance more remarkable.

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EU Plywood Trade Cautious, But Covid Recovery Faster Than Expected. ITTO European Market Report 30th September 2020.

EU Plywood Trade Cautious, But Covid Recovery Faster Than Expected

EU plywood trade is cautious, but Covid recovery is faster than expected. It’s still too early to say for sure, but it’s variously estimated by European plywood importers and distributors that the Covid-19 pandemic will slice 10-20% off their 2020 bottom line. Trade has since seen a bounce back, varying in degree from country to country, but companies don’t expect it to make up for the sales lost when the health crisis first hit.

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