Hardwood plywood imports retreat, some products
return to record levels
Imports of wooden furniture topped US$2.5 billion for the
first time in May as imports of some items headed back
into record territory.
Imports of hardwood flooring hit a 10-year high while
imports of sawn tropical hardwood, hardwood veneer, and
hardwood moulding all rose to levels that challenge
historical highs. Yet not all is on the rise.
Hardwood plywood imports fell for the second straight
month as declining imports from Russia (to be expected)
were met by even sharper declines in imports from China
and Vietnam. Imports of assembled flooring panels also
retreated somewhat in May.
Tropical hardwood imports rise
Imports of sawn tropical hardwood rose 6% in May
returning to near historic levels. The 27,451 cubic metres
imported in May was the second highest monthly volume
on record, just short of the more than 28,000 cubic metres
imported in March.
Imports of Mahogany were particularly strong, rising
152% in May and up 66% for the year so far over 2021.
Imports of Padauk, Acajou d¡¯Afrique, and Iroko all
showed sharp gains in May and are each well outpacing
2021 totals so far this year. Imports of Virola fell 63% and
are down 29% year-to-date.
Imports from Peru fell back to more historic levels after an
April that saw imports surpassing all of 2021¡¯s volume.
Imports from Brazil and Indonesia continued to rise in
May and are maintaining a level 10-15 times that of last
Imports from both Cameroon and Cote d¡¯Ivoire rose 32%
in May and are well ahead of last year¡¯s volume to date.
Total imports of sawn tropical hardwood are up 211% so
far this year although changes made this year by the US
government in how they are classifying tropical
hardwoods make direct comparison difficult.
Canada is also setting records for of sawn tropical
hardwood imports as totals rose for the fourth straight
month in May. Imports rose 32% in May with imports
from Cameroon, Indonesia, the United States and Congo
(formerly Brazzaville and formerly Zaire) all more than
doubling. Overall imports are up 32% year to date
through May over 2021 figures.
Hardwood plywood imports continue slide
Imports of hardwood plywood fell for the second month in
a row as volume retreated from a record high in March.
At 325,924 cubic metres, May volumes slid 18% from the
previous month to its lowest volume of the year. Imports
from Vietnam plunged 65% to their lowest level in more
than a year.
Despite the fall, imports from Vietnam are still more than
double 2021 volume year to date through May. Imports
from China fell 46% and imports from Russia sank 32% in
May, their lowest volume since May 2019.
While we may finally be seeing some impact from U.S.-
Russia trade tensions due to the invasion of Ukraine,
imports from Russia remain up 25% year to date. Overall
hardwood plywood import volume is up 50% year to date
Veneer imports bounce back
Imports of tropical hardwood veneer jumped 50% in May
after slumping in April. Much of the increase was due to
imports from Ghana which rose more than 500% in May
to their highest total since September 2019.
Imports from Ghana are now up 70% year to date.
Imports from Cote d¡¯Ivoire, Cameroon and India were also
up sharply, while imports from Italy (the top supplier to
the U.S.) fell 13%. Total tropical hardwood veneer imports
are ahead of last year by 47% through May.
Hardwood flooring imports set record high
Imports of hardwood flooring also rebounded in May,
rising 53% to their highest total in more than 10 years at
more than US$8.4 million. Imports from Malaysia jumped
115% in May to their highest level of the year and are up
31% year to date.
Imports from Indonesia rose 79% in May and now double
last year¡¯s imports so far this year. Imports from Brazil
(the top U.S. supplier) fell 5% in May but are up 19% year
to date. Total imports are ahead of 2021 by 17% so far this
Imports of assembled flooring panels, however, fell by 5%
in May as imports from China, Indonesia, and Vietnam all
fell by more than 20%. Imports from Canada rose 17% in
May and are up 38% year to date.
Total imports are ahead of last year 65% to date with
imports from most trade partners up by at least 30%. The
exception in China, where imports are down 4% year to
Moulding imports grow
US imports of hardwood moulding rose 6% in May
despite sharp decreases in imports from Brazil and China.
A gain of 19% in imports from the U.S. top supplier
Canada offset a decline of 45% in imports from China and
34% from Brazil. Despite the weak May numbers,
imports from Brazil are ahead 71% year to date over 2021
while imports from China are up 54% year to date.
Overall imports are up 40% year to date.
Wooden furniture imports back into record territory
Imports of wooden furniture rose 8% to set a new record,
breaking the one set in March. Imports from Vietnam
alone came just under the US$1 billion mark as the US
imported more than US$2.51 of wooden furniture in May.
Imports from Vietnam jumped 17% in May and moved
ahead of 2021 year to date by 1%. Imports from China,
Mexico and Canada also saw increases but of less than
10%. Total imports of wooden furniture remained up 11%
year to date.
Housing starts fall again
After reporting a steep drop in new residential
construction in the US in the previous month the
Department of Commerce released a report unexpectedly
showing a continued decline in housing starts in the month
of June. The report said housing starts slumped by 2% to
an annual rate of 1.559 million after plunging by 11.9% to
a revised rate of 1.591 million in May.
Single-family housing starts, which account for the biggest
share of homebuilding, tumbled 8% to a rate of 982,000
units in June, the first time that category has dropped
below the 1 million mark in two years. Single-family
homebuilding rose in the Midwest, but fell in the
Northeast, South and West, where a 25.4% drop was the
largest since January 2021.
Building permits for single-family homes,an indicator of
future construction, declined 8% to a rate of 967,000 units,
the lowest since June 2020. Meanwhile, a survey showed
the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo
Housing Market Index suffering its second-largest drop on
record in July, with a gauge of prospective buyer traffic
falling below the break-even level for a second straight
Canadian housing starts in June fell 3% from the previous
month on a decline in both multi-unit urban and singledetached
starts according to data from the Canadian
Mortgage and Housing Corporation. The seasonally
adjusted annualized rate of housing starts was 273,841
units in June, beating analyst predictions of 265,000 but
coming in below a revised 282,188 units in May.
Existing home sales drop for the fifth straight month
Sales of previously owned homes declined for the fifth
straight month in June falling 5.4% from May according to
a monthly report from the National Association of
Realtors, as prices set records and rates surged. The sales
count declined to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of
5.12 million units last month. Sales were 14.2% lower
compared with June 2021. This is the slowest sales pace
since June 2020, when sales dropped very briefly at the
start of the pandemic. Outside of that, it is the slowest pace
since January 2019, and below the annual 2019 total, prepandemic.
Existing home sales decreased by 11% in the West, 6.2%
in the South, and 1.6% in the Midwest while sales in the
Northeast were unchanged from the previous month. The
median existing-home sales price climbed 13.4% from one
year ago to US$416,000, a new record high.
Sales will likely fall more sharply in the coming months as
more recent indicators point to much weaker buyer
demand. Mortgage applications fell to a 22-year low in
mid-July, with demand from homebuyers down 19% from
the same week one year ago, according to the Mortgage
Jobs market holds firm despite economic fears
The economy added 372,000 jobs in June, an unexpected
boost in hiring and a signal that the labour market remains
robust despite recession fears, according to the monthly
jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The
unemployment rate held steady at 3.6%, still close to the
52-year low last reached in the months before the
pandemic hit. The June job total, slightly down from
May's revised 384,000 jobs added, far surpassed
The strongest job gains for June came from the
professional and business services, leisure and hospitality
and health care industries, with notable increases in areas
such as food services and warehousing and storage.
Transportation and warehousing added 36,000 jobs in June
while employment in manufacturing increased by 29,000.
Wood Products and furniture sectors continued to
contract in June
For the second straight month the wood and furniture
sectors reported contraction while nearly all other
manufactures saw growth according to the latest
Manufacturing ISM Report on Business. ISM reported that
economic activity in the manufacturing sector grew in
June, with the overall economy achieving a 25th
consecutive month of growth. Fifteen of the 18
manufacturing industries tracked by ISM reported growth
in June. The exceptions were Paper Products, Wood
Products, and Furniture and Related Products.
Consumer sentiment rises slightly from June low
The consumer Sentiment Index increased 2.2% on a
monthly basis to 51.1 points in July, still near record lows,
according to a preliminary report published by the
University of Michigan. The index has plummeted 37.1%
year over year.
Current assessments of personal finances continued to
deteriorate, reaching its lowest point since 2011. The share
of consumers blaming inflation for eroding their living
standards continued its rise to 49%, matching the all-time
high reached during the Great Recession of the 1930s.
These negative views endured in the face of the recent
moderation in gas prices at the pump.
Government to help end freight railroad and union
President Biden named the members of an emergency
board tasked with helping resolve disputes between freight
rail carriers and their unions. Biden signed an order on 15
July ahead of a deadline to intervene in nationwide
railroad labour talks covering 115,000 workers or open the
door to a potential strike or lockout that could threaten an
already fragile economy and choke supplies of food and