Following a 15% rise during 2016, EU imports of tropical plywood increased a further 45% to 89,900 MT in the first quarter of 2017. Much of the increase comprised plywood faced with tropical hardwood veneers manufactured in China and destined for the UK and Belgium. Imports of this product from China increased 66% to 28,600 MT in the opening 3 months of this year.
However, there were also gains in direct EU imports from all the major tropical suppliers during the same period. Imports increased from Indonesia by 54% to 23,400 MT, Malaysia by 8% to 18,500 MT, Brazil by 84% to 2,900 MT, Thailand by 123% to 2,000 MT, and Morocco by 106% to 1,900 MT. Imports from Gabon were stable at 5,200 MT during the period.
The changing composition of EU plywood imports may be partly related to enforcement of EUTR and CE marking requirements. This is encouraging a shift from Chinese mixed light hardwood products to plywood containing more clearly identified species of known tropical origin and technical performance.
It also provides new opportunities for plywood imported directly from tropical countries, particularly Indonesia following issue of the first FLEGT licenses in November 2016.