Drop in balsa imports
US imports of all sawn hardwood fell 24% in February
from the previous month. 53,345 cu.m. of sawn hardwood
worth US$31 million were imported in February. The
steepest drop was in imports of several temperate species,
but tropical imports also declined.
The volume and value of tropical sawnwood imports fell
by almost one third in February. A total of 16,107 cu.m.
was imported, valued at US$15.5 million. Despite the
decline, year-to-date tropical imports were 27% higher
than in February 2016.
The largest drop was in imports of balsa sawnwood from
Ecuador. Imports fell 43% to 5,088 cu.m. in February.
Sapelli and ipe imports were also down from the previous
month but remained at relatively high levels (2,446 cu.m.
and 1,953 cu.m., respectively).
Imports from Cameroon declined to 1,910 cu.m. in
February due to lower volumes of sapelli (1,334 cu.m.)
and acajou d¡¯Afrique (408 cu.m.). Ghana on the other
hand increased shipments of both species to the US in
Malaysia also grew exports to the US in February from the
previous month, but year-to-date volumes remained below
February 2016. Malaysia shipped 779 cu.m. of keruing
and 269 cu.m. of red meranti to the US market in
Italy supplied over 1,000 cu.m. of tropical sawnwood to
the US market in both January and February.
Canadian tropical imports up in February
Canadian imports of tropical sawnwood were worth
USUS$1.87 million in February, up 13% from January.
The value of year-to-date imports was unchanged from
February 2016. Imports of virola, imbuia and balsa
(combined) increased to USUS$646,233 in February.
Year-to-date imports of the three species were up 68%
from February last year.
Sapelli imports were almost unchanged from January at
US$380,644, down 27% year-to-date compared to
February 2016. Cameroon was again Canada¡¯s main
source of imports at US$547,083 in February, but year-todate
imports were down from the same time last year.
Imports from Brazil grew substantially in February and
were worth US$184,539. The majority was likely ipe
sawnwood, which is not classified separately in Canadian
trade data. Among the smaller suppliers Thailand, Gabon
and Guyana increased sawn hardwood exports to Canada
Weak start of the year for furniture industry
New furniture orders were flat in January compared to the
same time last year according to the Smith Leonhard
industry survey of residential furniture manufacturers and
distributors. In November and December new orders were
up 8% and 11%, respectively. Just over half of all survey
participants reported order were down.
January furniture shipments increased 2% from January
2016. Inventory levels at distributors and manufacturers
were slightly up from December.
January retail sales at furniture stores were unchanged
from January 2016 according to US Census Bureau data.
This was despite strong consumer confidence in the
economy and higher personal income.
Overall retail sales were up 5% from January last year
with strong growth in building materials and garden stores,
home furnishings (but not furniture) and car sales.
With interest rates still low furniture retail sales are
expected to pick up this year. Despite pre-election
promises by President Trump on trade policy there has
been no real change and few developments are expected
for much of 2017. Wooden furniture imports were at
record high levels in January.
First DLT manufacturing plant in North America
The first manufacturing plant for dowel laminated timber
(DLT) is being built in Canada near Vancouver. DLT
panels are engineered wood products similar to cross
laminated timber (CLT), nail laminated and glue
Unlike in CLT wood fibres are all in the same direction in
DLT. Instead of nails or glue, DLT uses hardwood dowels
that expand and lock the softwood into a structural panel.
The panels are made entirely of wood without the use of
plastic, metal or glue.
DLT panels can be used for building floor, wall and roof
structures. Of the approximately twenty existing DLT
plants most are in Austria, Germany and Switzerland,
according to the Journal of Commerce. The technology
was invented in Switzerland.
Mass timber panels like DLT and CLT are prefabricated
and quick to erect at the building site. A disadvantage of
DLT compared to CLT is the lower stability when the
panels are exposed to rain during construction.
The 50,000 sq.ft. DLT production facility is being built
from mass timber and is scheduled to open in January
Timber Innovation Act to promote timber construction
in the US
The Timber Innovation Act is a new bipartisan legislation
put forward to the US Congress to advance the design and
construction of tall timber buildings. The Act would create
a research and development program for tall wood
The US has fallen behind other countries in mass timber
technology and its application in construction of tall
buildings, according to the Binational Softwood Council,
whose mandate includes expanding the market for
softwood in the US and Canada.
The Senate and the House introduced the bill in March to
the support of almost 100 organizations and companies.
More information about the Timber Innovation Act is
The first tall wooden building in the US will be built in
Portland, Oregon later this year. The 12-storey building
will be made with CLT for the floors and the exterior and
have glulam beams and columns.
The tallest wood buildings is currently in Vancouver,
British Columbia, with 17 wooden stories on a concrete