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Vietnam’s rising significance as a wood processing hub

Vietnam’s role as a wood processing hub continued to rise during 2017. Vietnam is increasingly recognised as the primary location in South East Asia for supply of mid-range interior furniture and has become a major competitor to China in this sector. Vietnam’s imports of wood products are rising to supply the export-oriented furniture manufacturing sector as well as rising domestic demand. 

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EU imports of FLEGT licensed timber stable while African VPA partners lose ground

In the last 2 years, the level of trade between VPA partners and the EU has varied widely depending on the individual country and product. EU imports from Indonesia, currently the only FLEGT licensing country, have remained level at an annual average of €800 million since the start of 2016. This contrasts with imports from the five VPA implementing countries in Africa which declined continuously from an average annual level of €430 million at the start of 2017 to €330 million in March 2018.

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Lack of awareness = a key challenge for FLEGT-licensing

A workshop reviewing purchase dynamics for companies sourcing from Indonesia identified “lack of awareness” as the key challenge for FLEGT licensing in the marketplace. The workshop formed part of the IMM Trade Consultation in Nantes and participants came from both French and Indonesian private sectors. It produced interesting insights; however given the limited number of participants the results cannot be considered representative.

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VPA countries in EU timber trade during 2017

Of the €3.78 billion of tropical wood products imported into the EU in 2017, 21% was FLEGT licensed product from Indonesia, 9% derived from the five African countries that are implementing a VPA (Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Congo, Ghana, and Liberia) and 45% was from the 9 tropical countries currently involved in VPA negotiations (Côte d’Ivoire, DRC, Gabon, Guyana, Honduras, the Lao PDR, Malaysia, Thailand and Viet Nam).

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Supply side factors hit Ghana exports

In 2017, Ghana’s timber product export value fell 16% to €190 million while volume fell 15% to 397,000 m3. Exports fell to all regions except the Middle East. The decline in exports also affected nearly all product groups, the only exception being higher value tertiary products such as mouldings and flooring. Given that the fall in exports during 2017 affected nearly all markets and product groups and occurred at a time of generally rising global demand, it is likely that the trend was due more to supply-side than demand-side factors.

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EU imports from Indonesia in 2017

Alongside regular surveys of market opinion to assess the market impact of FLEGT licensing, IMM is implementing near-real time monitoring of trade flow statistics. This monitoring shows that EU imports of a few Indonesian timber products began to trend upwards in the months following introduction of FLEGT licensing in November 2016, in some cases the rising trend was immediate, in others it only began to be apparent from around the middle of 2017.

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