Tropical plywood losing out to temperate hardwood
Hardwood plywood imports declined 6% in August to
281,736 cu.m. The value of plywood imported in August
was down 4% from the previous month.
The main decline was in plywood imports from China,
Ecuador and Malaysia. Imports from China were 165,666
cu.m. in August worth US$99.7 million. Year-to-date
import volumes from China were unchanged from August
Hardwood plywood imports from Indonesia recovered in
August. Imports were 27,235 cu.m. up 40% from July.
However, year-to-date imports from Indonesia remain one
third below 2015 levels.
The import share of plywood made from temperate
hardwoods has grown in 2016. Year-to-date plywood
imports from Russia and Canada are up compared to
August 2015, while imports from most tropical producers
Encouraging growth in tropical hardwood veneer
Tropical hardwood veneer imports were worth US$3.4
million in August, up 22% from the previous month.
Imports from India jumped to over US$0.6 million in
August. Italy remained the largest supplier at US$637,305
in August despite a decline in imports from July.
Veneer imports from Cote d¡¯Ivoire doubled from July to
US$328,000, while imports from Ghana and Cameroon
declined in August.
Year-to-date imports were significantly up compared to
August 2015, doubling or tripling for the leading
US moulding imports from China top US$6 million
Imports of hardwood moulding were worth US$17.7
million in August, up 12% from the previous month. Yearto-
date imports remain lower than at the same time in
Imports from Brazil were US$3.8 million in August, up
36% following two months of decline. Moulding imports
from China increased 25% month-over-month to US$6.8
million. Malaysian shipments declined to under US$1
million in August.
Year-to-date moulding imports from Brazil and China
were down from August 2015, while imports from
Malaysia were 7% higher than in 2015.
Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia see
improved sales of flooring
Hardwood flooring imports were almost unchanged in
August at US$4.2 million. Assembled flooring panels
imports grew 7% from July to US$16.5 million.
Malaysia¡¯s and Indonesia¡¯s shares in US imports of
hardwood flooring declined in 2016. Year-to-date imports
from Malaysia and Indonesia were 34% and 15%,
respectively, lower than in August 2015. China and to a
lesser degree Canada grew their hardwood flooring
exports to the US market.
In assembled flooring panels year-to-date imports from
China, Indonesia and Thailand increased compared to
Assembled flooring panel imports from Indonesia grew to
US$1.3 million in August. Indonesian monthly shipments
to the US surpassed the US$1 million mark only once
before, in November 2015.
Emerging suppliers to the US market continued to increase
exports in August. Imports from Vietnam and Cambodia
were worth US$0.6 and US$0.4 million, respectively.
Wooden furniture imports from Mexico up 14%
Wooden furniture imports were almost unchanged in
August at US$1.44 billion. Year-to-date imports increased
3% from August 2015.
Furniture imports from most countries changed little from
July. China lost market share while Vietnam gained in
August. Year-to-date China¡¯s share in total imports
declined from 47.1% in August 2015 to 46.3% in August
this year, while Vietnam¡¯s imports share grew to 18.7%.
Wooden furniture imports from Mexico gained the most in
August. Imports from Mexico grew 14% to US$73.7
million. Imports from Europe also increased in August,
supported by the favourable exchange rate for European
India, Canada and Mexico had the strongest growth in
year-to-date wooden furniture exports to the US market.
Wooden kitchen furniture imports grew in August.
Imports of office, upholstered and seating furniture
Second quarter GDP revised up
GDP increased at an annual rate of 1.4% in the second
quarter of 2016, revised up from the earlier estimate of
1.1% by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The
unemployment rate was 5% in September, little changed
from 4.9% in August, according to the US Bureau of
The manufacturing sector expanded in September
following one month of contraction, according to the
Institute of Supply Management. Furniture and related
products manufacturing was among the industries that
contracted in August, but in September economic activity
in the furniture industry was up. Wood product
manufacturing shrank in September.
Slowdown in multi-family home construction
Housing starts fell 9% in September to a seasonally
adjusted annual rate of 1.05 million units, according to the
US Department of Housing and Urban Development and
the Commerce Department. The decline was due to
significantly lower multi-family housing construction in
The National Association of Home Builders expects lower
multi-family construction this year.
Single-family home construction increased 8.1% in
September. The number of single-family starts was the
highest since February.
Single-family home builders were optimistic about market
conditions in October, according to the National Home
Builder Association. Low mortgage rates support demand
for new and existing single-family houses.
The number of building permits issues, which indicates
future building activity, rose 6.3% in September at a
seasonally adjusted annual rate.
Sales of existing homes sales rebounded strongly in
September, according to the National Association of
Realtors. Sales to first-time buyers accounted for 34% of
total sales, which is the highest level in over four years.
Canadian housing market overheated
Housing starts in Canada increased 20% in September at a
seasonally adjusted annual rate. Both multi-family and
single-family construction grew.
For the first time the Canada Housing and Mortgage
Corporation flagged the overall housing market as
overvalued. The federal agency found price overvaluation
in nine metropolitan areas and overbuilding in seven.
Overvaluation in metropolitan centres like Toronto and
Vancouver has spread to the suburbs.
The latest initiative by the federal government to cool the
housing market is a stress test for all insured mortgage
borrowers with a down payment of less 20%. Introduced
in October, the test determines whether a borrower could
afford to pay back a loan at a rate higher than currently
offered by lenders. Both the IMF and OECD have called
on Canada to act on its high household debt relative to
GDP, which is a concern for the country¡¯s financial
Timber Innovation Act to advance tall wood building
construction in the US
A bipartisan bill, the Timber Innovation Act, has been
introduced to congress by senators and representatives
from Washington State. The Timber Innovation Act would
establish a new research and development program
advancing tall wood building construction in the US.
This would provide additional incentives, such as
retrofitting existing facilities in areas with high
unemployment, and allow the US Department of
Agriculture to provide technical assistance and education
on products for tall building construction, such as crosslaminated
The US Congress web site says ¡°This bill directs the
Department of Agriculture (USDA) to establish a
performance-driven research and development program to
advance tall wood building construction in the United
¡®Tall wood building¡¯ means a building designed to be over
85 feet high and constructed with large panelised wood
construction (mass-timber), including cross-laminated
timber, nail laminated timber, glue laminated timber,
laminated strand lumber, and laminated veneer lumber.¡±
For more see: https://www.congress.gov/bill/114thcongress/