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Roderick Wiles, AHEC Director for Africa, Middle East, South Asia and Oceania

Exports of U.S. hardwood lumber and veneer to the MENA region reach $90.49m in 2013

: Wednesday, March 12 - 2014 @ 15:21

Total exports of U.S. hardwood lumber and veneer to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region reached USD 90.49 million for the year 2013, according to a statement issued by the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), the leading international trade association for the American hardwood industry. The statistics, which have been compiled from the latest data released from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), reveal a 5% increase over 2012 figures. In addition, AHEC has also revealed its new outreach strategy for the year ahead of its participation at the ‘Dubai WoodShow 2014’, which will take place from April 8 – 10.

According to the data released, exports of American hardwood lumber reached a value of USD 64.14 million and a volume of 90,941 cubic meters, marking an increase of 3% and 1% respectively over 2012. However, it is interesting to note that exports of U.S. hardwood lumber to the MENA region in 2013 were 80% greater in volume than in 2008. The main contributing factors to this remarkable growth are the take up of American hardwood lumber in new markets, such as Pakistan and Turkey and growth seen in Saudi Arabia.

A closer look at the numbers also revealed that direct shipments of U.S. hardwood veneers to the MENA region during 2013 reached a total value of USD 26.36 million, rising by 9% over the previous year. However, American hardwood veneers are also shipped to the region from European countries and China, while veneers are also produced in the region – notably in Turkey – from imported American hardwood logs. In addition, U.S. hardwood log exports to the MENA region reached a value of USD 23.44 million and a volume of 44,643 cubic meters last year.

“In volume terms, Pakistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, UAE and Egypt emerged as the key markets in the region for U.S. hardwood lumber. Turkey grew to become the number one destination in terms of value. Interestingly, while the volumes exported to Pakistan were much higher than those shipped to Turkey last year, the unit values of the lumber were relatively low in comparison, at USD 529 per m3 and USD 590 per m3, respectively. Turkey’s imports of U.S. hardwood lumber last year were at an average unit value of USD 713 per m3, owing, in part, to the large volumes of white oak shipped to the market,” said Roderick Wiles, AHEC Director for Africa, Middle East, South Asia and Oceania.

In terms of species, 29% of the volume of U.S. hardwood lumber shipped to the MENA region during 2013 was accounted for by red oak (26,294 cubic meters), which was exactly in line with the previous year. In addition, shipments of white oak and tulipwood to the region picked up significantly last year, rising by 19% to 11,846 cubic meters and by 25% to 9,676 cubic meters respectively. Exports of hickory lumber to the region grew considerably last year, rising by 27% to 6,040 cubic meters, but this was almost completely accounted for by shipments to Pakistan. At the same time, exports of tulipwood grew to their highest levels yet at 9,767 cubic meters.

Commenting on the UAE market, Wiles said: “The UAE’s imports of U.S. hardwood lumber saw a fairly significant decline last year, falling by 28% in volume and 26% in value as compared to 2012. Much of this decrease can be accounted for by the fact that a few major projects were completed in 2013 and stocks of U.S. hardwood lumber on the ground were already very high. A large proportion of the demand for American hardwoods in the UAE is project-dependent and, while a massive number of new construction projects have recently been announced, they are not likely to reach the timber specification stage for some time to come. We anticipate the first half of 2014 to show some readjustment in the UAE hardwood market, but expect demand for U.S. hardwoods to pick up significantly later in the year.”

One MENA market that showed remarkable growth in demand for U.S. hardwood lumber last year was Egypt, to which exports grew by 45% in volume and 58% in value as compared to 2012. This is particularly surprising, given the volatile political and, therefore, unstable economic situation in the country, which has prevailed since February 2011. However, in the aftermath of the July 2013 military coup in Egypt, new presidential elections for the first quarter of this year have been set. AHEC is confident that if all goes as smoothly as is hoped, the Egyptian market could see renewed stability and economic growth later this year.

Positive of increased growth across the region, AHEC will be participating at the annual ‘Dubai WoodShow’, which takes place at the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre (DICEC). During the three-day show, AHEC will be hosting a pavilion with individual booths occupied by twelve U.S. hardwood exporting companies along with the Hardwood States Export Group (HSEG) – a coalition of major eastern U.S. hardwood exporting states. Confirmed exhibitors include Nina Company; American Lumber; Missouri Walnut; Wheeland Lumber Company; Kretz Lumber; Baillie Lumber; Northland Corporation; Somerset Wood Products; Northwest Hardwoods; Snowbelt Hardwoods; Hermitage Hardwood; and Robinson Lumber Company.

Outlining AHEC’s education and promotion strategy for 2014, Wiles said: “Through 2014, AHEC will re-focus its strategy in the MENA region on education aimed at all elements of the ‘timber chain’, whether it is specifiers (architects and interior designers), end users (furniture and joinery manufacturers) or importers and distributors. AHEC intends to conduct seminars across the region, highlighting positive developments such as the growing acceptance of thermally modified U.S. hardwoods, which can be used in exterior applications, such as decking and cladding.”

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Wednesday, March 12- 2014 @ 15:21 UAE local time (GMT+4) Replication or redistribution in whole or in part is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Mediaquest FZ LLC.

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