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American Hardwoods March On In Southeast Asia

Hong Kong, CHINA: Just as the American domestic market has undoubtedly improved in 2014, so has the demand for American hardwoods around the world. Global exports of hardwood lumber from the USA increased by 13% in volume and 26% in value. Exports of American hardwood logs, veneer and flooring were all up in 2014 compared to 2013.

In Southeast Asia 2014 shipments of hardwood lumber rose 16% in value to quarter of a billion US$ and 4% in volume to more than half a million cubic metres. China was the leading world market with shipments of U.S. hardwood lumber of 1.75 million M3 (up 19%) worth US$1,096,860,208 (up 35%). Number one species globally was Red Oak (861,697 M3) followed by Tulipwood (Yellow Poplar 774,853 M3), second again in 2014 ahead of White Oak (618,803 M3). American Ash, Walnut, Maple, Red Alder and Hickory each exceeded 100,000 M3 in volume. It is interesting to note while the volume of lumber shipped to Southeast Asia exceeded that to the European Union the unit value to Southeast Asia was less. The average price for American hardwood paid in the EU was 1.6 times higher than in Southeast Asia where very competitive Tulipwood was number one species. For example, Vietnam accounted for 79% of the total volume of all lumber shipped to SE Asia of which 43% was Tulipwood. By contrast, in Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines and Singapore other species such as high value White Oak and Walnut were the leading species.

Hardwood log shipments of 141,024 M3 to Southeast Asia rose by 26% in volume and 20% in value, but remain small by comparison to hardwood lumber at 512,411 M3, reconfirming the long term shift by local manufacturers from logs to lumber. Vietnam continues to dominate American markets in Southeast Asia, and despite its dependence on Tulipwood and White Oak, 2014 imports saw significant increases in other species such as Walnut more than doubling (158%), Red Oak (66%), Red Alder (66%) Cherry (118%) and Hickory (203%) albeit each from a small base.

The Thai volume imported was stable with a 10% increase in value overall but, whereas the Thai market was dominated by Tulipwood, in the Malaysian market White Oak still led. Nevertheless the Malaysian market saw a 50% increase in value and 32% increase in volume of Tulipwood lumber, demonstrating a growing awareness of the suitability of the American species for Malaysian furniture manufacturers.

According to John Chan, Regional Director of AHEC for Southeast Asia and Greater China, “We are very encouraged by this result, which demonstrates further growth in consumption of American hardwoods in the region and encourages us to continue the promotional efforts of the U.S. hardwood industry as a key supplier to Asian markets.” Calligaris opens new showroom in Philippines.