Business Trends Abroad

Feb/Mar Issue

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Italy – The Centre For Industrial Studies (CSIL) recently published its 2022 edition of “World Furniture Outlook,” which is issued twice a year, in July and December, providing status and prospects of the world furniture sector.

According to CSIL, the world furniture market resumed in 2021 with furniture consumption levels well above the pre-pandemic values, and it is expected to further increase in 2022 and 2023.

Over one-third of the world furniture consumption is presently imported. The leading importers on a global level are the United States, Germany, France and the United Kingdom. 

More than 75 percent of furniture imports to the U.S. originated from Asia (mainly from China, Vietnam and Malaysia). Within the total U.S. furniture imports from Asia, the share from China has decreased because of trade tensions, in favor of imports from Vietnam, in particular.

China– China’s General Administration of Customs recently released new phytosanitary requirements for Pine logs and lumber from seven countries (United States, Canada, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Portugal and Spain) where the Pine nematode is present. The new rules cover testing and treating Pine logs and lumber prior to export, phytosanitary certificate requirements, and port of entry requirements. The new guidelines also limit the port’s Pine logs and lumber from the listed countries that can enter China. The new guidelines took effect on February 1, 2022.

Malaysia – With the gradual recovery in the major market countries, the Malaysian Timber Council (MTC) has assessed the opportunities for the commodity and wood processing sectors.

Tan Ting Wai, MTC Business Development Division Director, said that current market demand presents distinct opportunities in terms of consumer products for the West and industrial products for the East. In developed countries governments are boosting demand through a variety of ways, which has led to rising demand for consumer products. Countries that rely on exports are seeing a surge in demand, which has driven up their requirements for raw materials and industrial inputs.

He is of the opinion that there are opportunities in supplying value-added semi-finished and finished products, like outdoor furniture to China, because their raw material and labor costs are rising, as are shipping costs. In addition, the production environment is becoming tough as environmental protection regulations in China are tightened.

In contrast to the situation in China, Tan pointed out the U.S. is the major market for Malaysian furniture, accounting for almost 50 percent of total furniture exports. Demand in the U.S. is driven by home building and remodeling. Growth in these sectors is expected to be maintained for some time.

In Europe, Malaysia’s market share for tropical wood products has dropped, mainly due to supply issues during the various lockdowns and has been compounded by a severe lack of shipping containers.

Vietnam – Viforest Executive Committee emphasized as 2021 ended that it was estimated that the wood industry would achieve an export turnover of about 1.3 billion USD per month.

In addition, the export of rattan, bamboo, sedge and carpet products, which has strong growth, is expected
to reach an export turnover of about 850 million USD, contributing to raising the export turnover of the whole industry to over 16 billion USD. 

Businesses also forecast that in the last two months of 2021, the demand for wooden furniture would increase sharply in the world market. The U.S. remains the largest export market for Vietnam’s wooden furniture and furniture in general. 

Currently, 60 percent of furniture and furniture manufacturers under contracts in Vietnam are U.S. partners. Besides furniture exported to the U.S. and Europe, currently, Vietnam is the second largest wooden furniture supplier to Japan with impressive growth. In addition, in the top five products with the highest export value of the wood industry, Vietnam is the second largest exporter of pellets in the world and it is forecast that this item will continue to grow following the trend of the world changing to clean fuel.

United Kingdom – More than 3.32 million cubic meters of timber and panel imports were imported in Q3 2021 (the most current data available at presstime), as the market achieved greater balance between supply and demand after nearly a year of record imports, reported the UK’s Timber Trade Federation (TTF).

The TTF says these import levels are more than 23 percent over Q3 2020 and, significantly, more than 10 percent higher than the last time Q3 volumes exceeded three million cubic meters – in 2007.

Also softwood is being imported in larger amounts from a more diverse range of countries over the past quarter, with Latvia, Finland, and Germany growing to account for 61 percent (1.1 million cubic meters) of the 1.8 million cubic meters of softwood imported in Q3 2021.

Other timber products, including hardwood, plywood, particleboard, OSB and MDF, have also seen clear increases in Q3 2021 as compared with the previous year, said the TTF.

China – According to the Southern Forest Products Assocation (SFPA), The Pine wood nematode (PWN), also known as Pine wilt nematode, is a microscopic, worm-like creature which the Chinese government deemed a serious threat to local conifer forests. Native to North America, the PWN causes a condition in the trees called Pine wilt disease; and is often fatal to the host tree. Invisible to the naked eye, the PWN are spread by sawyer beetles laying their eggs in the bark of dead or dying conifer trees. Long distanced spread occurs through the transport of wood infested with PWN.

As the Chinese work to control the import and spread of PWN (Bursaphelenchus xylophilus) in their country, American softwood representatives in China are on the front lines of receiving the information and helping customers navigate any new quarantine requirements so that Southern Pine lumber successfully passes inspection upon arrival. Proper documentation of the Heat-Treating process and certification should accompany the shipments, especially for rough material that may not be grade-marked.

SFPA is actively monitoring the decree. 

For updates, visit www.sfpa.org.

By Miller Wood Trade Publications

The premier online information source for the forest products industry since 1927.

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