Strong tropical timber trade in Belgium, Netherlands and other EU countries
Compared with the same period in 2018, EU tropical timber products trade was more active in the first quarter of this year. In the first quarter of 2019, the EU imported 525,000 tons of wood products from tropical countries, an increase of 9% over the same period in 2018. Imports grew by 17% to 561 million euros.
However, the overall economic situation of the EU this year is not optimistic. The European Commission recently lowered its GDP growth forecast for the EU as a whole to 1.4% in 2019 in response to signs of economic deterioration. To some extent, the growth of EU tropical timber imports so far in 2019 reflects just how bad the market was last year, when imports of several commodities were only slightly higher than the record low during the 2008-2009 financial crisis.
In the first quarter of this year, imports of tropical timber products increased in all major markets of the European Union except Germany. In the first quarter of 2019, compared with the same period in 2018, the total imports of tropical timber products from Belgium increased by 102,500 tons (+5%), the United Kingdom (+23% to 91,000 tons), the Netherlands (+16% to 72,000 tons), France (60,000 tons + 4%), Italy (44,000 tons + 13%), Spain (+36% to 26,600 tons), Portugal (+70% to 19,400 tons) and Greece (+23% to 18,700 tons).
By contrast, in the first quarter of 2019, Germany’s total tropical timber imports fell by 9% to 42,400 tons. This decline is partly due to the increasing reliance of German dealers on indirect imports of tropical timber products from other EU countries.