Changing hardwood plywood supply channels
Hardwood plywood imports declined by 5% in January to
202,536 cu.m. but the value of imports increased to
China¡¯s share in US hardwood plywood imports was only
18% in January, down from 60% in January 2017 before
the US imposed anti-dumping and countervailing duties.
Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia gained the most from
the duties on Chinese plywood. Plywood imports from
Vietnam and Cambodia are still relatively small, but in
January they surpassed Malaysia¡¯s shipments to the US.
Plywood imports from Indonesia were 29% higher than in
January 2017, while the value of imports increased by
Flooring imports down in January
Tropical veneer and hardwood moulding imports grew in
January, while imports of flooring (both solid and
engineered) declined from the previous month.
Tropical veneer imports from China were worth
US$830,795 in January, compared to just US$231,827 in
January 2017. Given the relatively small size of US
imports of tropical veneer it is too soon to tell if the
increase in veneer imports from China is related to the
tariffs on Chinese hardwood plywood.
Hardwood moulding imports were US$16.7 million in
January. The strongest growth was in imports from Brazil,
which accounted for 18% of total moulding imports.
For hardwood flooring Brazil lost US market share in
January, however, while Indonesia and Vietnam increased
their hardwood flooring shipments to the US, China
remains the dominant supplier of hardwood flooring.
Rise in wooden furniture imports from Indonesia and
Wooden furniture imports grew 1% in January to US$1.69
billion. Imports were 6% higher than in January 2017.
Imports from China and Malaysia were slightly down in
January, but most other countries increased exports to the
The highest growth rate was in imports from Indonesia
and India ¨C both month-on-month and compared to the
same time last year. Italy also expanded its furniture
shipments to the U.S.
Despite the overall growth in wooden furniture imports,
imports of office and upholstered seating furniture
declined in January. The strongest growth was in nonupholstered
Slow start to year for furniture and cabinet businesses
Furniture manufacturers reported contraction in February
according the Institute for Supply Management¡¯s survey
(Manufacturing ISM Report On Business). Wood product
manufacturing was unchanged from January, while most
other manufacturing industries in the US reported growth.
For 2017, new furniture orders were up 4% over 2016
according to the Smith Leonard survey of US residential
furniture manufacturers and distributors. Furniture
shipments also increased 4% in 2017 from the previous
2018 started with lower sales by furniture retail and by
cabinet manufacturers. Retail sales at furniture stores were
down in January from the previous month, according to
US Census preliminary figures, but sales increased 5%
compared to January 2017.
Cabinetry sales were down 3% in January compared to the
same month in 2017 based on the Kitchen Cabinet
Manufacturers Association¡¯s Trend of Business Survey.
For 2017, US cabinet manufacturers reported a 3%
increase in sales.
Lower incomes to affect consumer spending
GDP increased 2.5% in the fourth quarter of 2017
according to the second estimate released by the Bureau of
Economic Analysis. The unemployment rate was
unchanged in February at 4.1%. Employment continued to
rise in construction, manufacturing and retail trade,
according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Consumer confidence rose in March rose to its highest
level since 2004 according to the University of Michigan
Surveys of Consumers report. All of the gain was among
households with incomes in the bottom third, while the
economic assessments of those with incomes in the top
third posted a significant monthly decline.
While the federal tax reform legislation was largely
perceived as positive, the new import duties on steel and
aluminium were spontaneously cited as unfavourable by
Consumers¡¯ income expectations fell in March, especially
among the top-third income households. Since these
households account for more than half of all consumption,
consumer spending may not grow in the coming quarter.
Growing demand for housing
Multi-family construction declined in February, while
single-family starts grew. January was a very strong month
for multi-family construction, so the February drop is not
Total housing starts in February were at a seasonally
adjusted annual rate of 1.24 million according to the US
Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and
Urban Development. Starts declined 7% from January.
For sales of existing homes, the National Association of
Realtors reports that despite consistently low inventory
levels and faster price growth, sales bounced back in
February after two straight months of declines.
Interest in home purchasing is high, but poor supply and
rising prices remain pressing issues.
June 1, - formaldehyde emission standard to be
The US District Court for the Northern District of
California has issued an order regarding the compliance
dates for the federal formaldehyde standards, following a
litigation over an EPA-proposed extension of the
By June 1, 2018 composite wood products and finished
products containing composites such as furniture must be
certified as compliant with either the federal EPA
standards or the existing California standards, certified by
a third-party certifier recognized by the EPA.
The rule applies to products manufactured in the US as
well as imported products.
Dates for compliance, certification and labelling are
available on the EPA website: