Three leading European importing companies comment on their experience of purchasing FLEGT licensed products from Indonesia in the last two years.
FLEGT market news
After a dip in 2017, EU imports of tropical wood products have recovered ground in 2018. Most of the gains this year have been in imports from countries not engaged in the VPA process, including Nigeria, Brazil, India and China.
The EU imported 420,000 metric tonnes (MT) of wood products from Indonesia in the year ending September 2018 compared to 410,000 MT in the year ending September 2017. A continuing rise in EU imports of Indonesian plywood and charcoal has offset an on-going decline in imports of Indonesia flooring and other processed products.
A series of charts summarising EU tropical timber imports between January 2015 and September 2018, highlighting trends according to the status of FLEGT VPAs in tropical supplying countries.
Discussion themes in workshop 2 covered the range of factors that play a part in any tropical timber transaction in the EU and set the context for market uptake of FLEGT licensed product and the relevance attached to the wider FLEGT initiative.
The main section of the IMM Berlin Trade Consultation opened with a workshop on trends in EU tropical timber trade. The workshop’s primary purpose was to discuss drivers of market decline and future opportunities for tropical timber in Europe with private sector representatives.
IMM's role is to use a combination of trade flow analysis and market research to track market impacts of FLEGT-licensed timber and wood products. The market research aspect lay at the heart of its Trade Consultation in Berlin in November.
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.
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.
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.
Among key factors in the decline in the European market for tropical timber identified by breakout group participants focusing on the topic at the IMM Trade Consultation in Nantes was the 2008 financial crisis, which forced changes in supply in Africa particularly and led to rationalisation of the sector.
The new Fair&Precious promotion programme effectively encapsulates the work of the International Tropical Timber Technical Association (ATIBT), supporting the tropical sector’s technical, environmental and economic performance, into a producer- and market-facing branding campaign.
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