UK imports of tropical sawnwood were 54,000 m3 in the first six months of this year, 2% less than the same period in 2022. Although UK imports of this commodity appear to have held up reasonably well compared to other tropical products this year, a larger share has been sourced indirectly from the EU and not direct from the tropics.
Furthermore, a large increase in UK imports of tropical hardwood sawnwood (HS 4407) from Brazil this year is also offset by a significant decline in imports of Brazilian tropical hardwood decking/mouldings (HS4409). Therefore, it may be that reported trends for both commodities are distorted by changes in the way products from Brazil are categorized respectively as “sawnwood” and “mouldings”.
UK imports of tropical sawnwood from Cameroon were 19,300 m3 in the first six months of 2023, 6% less than the relatively high level in the same period in 2022. UK tropical sawnwood imports from Malaysia, which revived to some extent last year after many years of decline, fell by 57% in the first six months of this year to 4,700 m3.
UK imports of tropical sawnwood from Brazil were reported as 4,800 m3 in the first six months of this year, a gain of 98% compared to the same period in 2022. UK tropical sawnwood imports also increased in the first six months this year from Republic of Congo (+29% to 1,600 m3), and Ghana (+78% to 1,300 m3). However imports from Guyana fell 12% to 1,700 m3.
Indirect UK imports of tropical sawnwood via the EU recovered ground despite the Brexit disruption, increasing 8% to 13,800 m3 in the first six months of 2023. To some extent, UK’s continuing dependence on indirect imports of tropical sawnwood from the EU is due to a shortage of kiln drying space in African supply countries combined with lack of any hardwood kiln dying capacity in the UK.
UK imports of tropical hardwood mouldings/decking fell 31% in the first six months of 2023 to 4,500 tonnes. This commodity group benefited in the UK market during 2022 from shortages of non-tropical products, particularly since the start of the war in Ukraine and sanctions on Russian decking products that directly compete with tropical decking.
However, with high stocks built up in the UK last year and much reduced consumption, imports of tropical mouldings/decking have fallen away again this year. Imports of 1,500 tonnes from Indonesia were 43% less than the same period in 2022. Imports from Malaysia totalling 1,300 tonnes were down 20% compared to the same period last year.
Imports of this commodity group from Brazil were recorded at less than 200 tonnes in the first six months of this year, 86% less than the same period last year. In contrast, imports increased 123% from the Netherlands to 891 tonnes, while imports from Vietnam increased 3-fold to 350 tonnes from a very small base.