In the first half of 2022 EU imports of timber and wood products from VPA partner countries grew robustly. Trade was buoyed by healthy consumption levels in construction and continuing strong activity in the repair and home improvement markets. Growth was also helped by resolution of some of the logistics issues caused by the pandemic and consequently falling freight rates. Per container freight costs freight costs from Asia to Europe, for instance, were reported as high as $20,000 in 2020/21 compared to around $2,500 pre-Covid, leading to large- scale switching to breakbulk vessels. But in 2022 this has dropped to between $4,000 and $5,000 and falling. Looking ahead, the picture for the European timber market may not be so bright, with inflation and interest rates at their highest in decades and consumer confidence falling sharply.
The total value of all VPA partner countries timber products exports to the EU in the first six months of 2022 were still 2% down on the same period in of the last pre-Covid year –2019. But they were up 36% to USD 2.05 billion compared to the same period in 2021 and the total value for 2022 looks likely to exceed last year’s figure of USD3.2 billion.
Indonesia remains the only VPA partner country that that exports FLEGT-licensed products and experienced export to the EU value growth of 36% in the first half of 2022 compared to 2021. [Figure 1.1]
EU import volume from VPA partner countries grows
The first half of 2022 saw overall volumes imported by the EU from VPA partner countries increase to nearly 923,000 tons, a rise of 16% compared to the first half of 2021, though 3% lower than the volume for the same half year in 2019. [Figure 1.2]
In the first six months of 2022 the value of wooden furniture continued to be the dominant product category imported by the EU from VPA partner countries. [Figure 1.3] With a 17% value increase compared to the same period in 2021, and 37% growth compared to the same quarter in 2019, imports of wooden furniture to the EU from VPA partner countries amounted to USD 880 million in the first half of 2022.
Sawnwood continued to be the second largest material type in terms of value for imports to the EU from VPA partners in the first half of 2022. With imports valued at USD 320 million in the first half of the year, this showed growth of 32% compared to the same period in 2021 and a 14% increase in value compared to the same period in 2019.
Wooden joinery imports to the EU from VPA partners grew by 39% compared to the first half of 2021 (to USD 170 million) and show growth of 36% over the value for the same period in 2019.