UK imports of tropical wood furniture back to pre-
The UK imported US$731 million of tropical wooden
furniture products in 2022, 8% less than the previous year.
In quantity terms, wood furniture imports were 153,000
tonnes last year, 9% less than in 2021.
After the market turmoil in the previous two years during
the COVID pandemic, UK tropical wood furniture imports
in 2022 returned to a level slightly below the annual
average between 2015 and 2019 (US$771 million).
In a sign of deteriorating consumption, UK wooden
furniture import value in the last quarter of 2022 was 16%
lower than the previous quarter and 15% down on the
same period in 2021.
In 2022, UK import value of wooden furniture decreased
2% from Vietnam to US$365 million, 7% from Malaysia
to US$130 million, 3% from India to US$80 million, 15%
from Indonesia to US$69 million, 35% from Singapore to
US$54 million. However imports increased 19% from
Thailand to US$22 million (Chart 1).
UK tropical joinery imports slow dramatically in last
quarter of 2022
UK import value of tropical joinery products was US$271
million in 2022, 9% more than the previous year.
However, as for wooden furniture, all the gains were made
in the first half of the year and imports slowed
dramatically in the last quarter.
Import value and quantity in the fourth quarter were down
around 30% compared to both the previous quarter and the
same quarter in 2021. In 2022, UK imported tropical
joinery products from Indonesia (in this case mainly
doors) with total value of US$138 million, 14% less than
the previous year (Chart 2). In quantity terms, UK joinery
imports from Indonesia were also down 14% to 45,000
tonnes in 2021.
UK imports of joinery products from Malaysia and
Vietnam (mainly laminated products for kitchen and
window applications) were slow throughout last year. In
2022 import value from Malaysia fell 18% to US$38
million and quantity fell 24% to 12,200 tonnes. Import
value from Vietnam fell 49% to US$9 million and the
quantity fell 44% to 2,300 tonnes.
UK imports of tropical joinery products from a variety of
non-tropical countries – including China, Ireland, Poland,
and Lithuania - apparently increased sharply last year.
However these increases were due to introduction from 1st
January 2022 of new product codes which identify wood
doors and windows manufactured using a wider range of
tropical wood species in UK and EU trade statistics.
Sharp decline in UK tropical hardwood plywood
imports in 2022
The UK imported 202,300 cu.m of tropical hardwood
plywood in 2022, 29% less than the previous year, with a
significant decline in imports from all the main traditional
supply sources including Indonesia, Malaysia, and China
(Chart 3). After a strong start to 2022, trade weakened
sharply during and after the summer months. UK imports
of tropical hardwood plywood were 34% lower in the
second half of 2022 than in the first six months.
Indonesia overtook China as the UK’s largest supplier of
tropical hardwood plywood in 2022. However, imports of
59,000 cu.m from Indonesia were still down 18%
compared to the previous year. Imports from Malaysia
also declined 18% to 50,500 cu.m.
In contrast, there were large percentage gains in imports of
tropical hardwood plywood from two smaller suppliers to
the UK; imports from Thailand increased 30% to 11,100
cu.m last year, while imports from Gabon rose 65% to
The UK imported 48,600 cu.m of tropical hardwood
plywood from China in 2022, 48% less than the previous
year. Probably the biggest shift in the UK hardwood
plywood trade in the last two years has been a rapid
decline in imports of Chinese products faced with tropical
hardwoods in favour of temperate hardwood products.
UK imports of Chinese plywood faced with temperate
hardwood – primarily birch and poplar – increased 10% to
just over 600,000 cu.m last year, the highest level ever
recorded (exceeding the previous record of 575,000 cu.m
Chinese temperate hardwood plywood has been the largest
beneficiary of UK sanctions against all trade in Russian
wood products since the start of the Ukraine conflict. UK
imports of hardwood plywood from Russia were just
14,900 cu.m, down 80% from 84,000 cu.m the previous
Meanwhile, the combined effects of Brexit, supply
shortages and rising energy and other material costs on the
European continent is impacting on UK imports of tropical
hardwood plywood from EU countries which were just
11,700 cu.m in 2022 compared to over 25,000 cu.m in the
previous two years.
Robust UK imports of tropical sawnwood in 2022
Unlike tropical hardwood plywood, UK imports of
tropical sawnwood were robust last year. Total UK
imports of tropical sawnwood were 108,900 cu.m in 2022,
34% more than the same period in 2021 and the highest
level since 2016.
In addition to making gains overall, there were some
significant changes in the countries supplying tropical
sawnwood to the UK last year (Chart 4).
UK imports of tropical sawnwood from Cameroon were
38,600 cu.m in 2022, 3% less than the relatively high level
in 2021. UK imports of tropical sawnwood from the
Republic of Congo recovered lost ground last year, with
imports of 7,400 cu.m being nearly a three-fold increase
compared to the previous year.
UK imports from Côte d'Ivoire were 4,100 cu.m last year,
a 3% rise compared to 2021.
UK imports of sawnwood from Malaysia, which had fallen
to little more than a trickle in previous years, were 16,700
cu.m in 2022, 62% more than in 2021. UK imports of
tropical sawnwood from Brazil were 6,100 cu.m last year,
74% more than in 2021.
However UK imports from Guyana declined 10% to 3,300
cu.m in 2022. Indirect UK imports of tropical sawnwood
via the EU recovered ground last year despite the Brexit
disruption, increasing 66% to 25,000 cu.m in 2022.
UK imports of tropical hardwood mouldings/decking were
high in 2022, at 11,500 tonnes, 18% more than the
previous year. Imports of 4,700 tonnes from Indonesia
were 23% more than in 2021. Imports of 2,900 tonnes
from Malaysia were 20% up compared to 2021. However
mouldings/decking imports from Brazil of 1,700 tonnes
were 13% less than in 2021 (Chart 5).
The UK market for tropical decking benefitted last year
from shortages of non-tropical products, particularly since
the start of the war in Ukraine and sanctions on Russian
wood products. UK direct imports of Russian decking
products – which mainly comprise larch - were just 630
tonnes last year, down from nearly 2000 tonnes the
previous year. COVID lockdowns in China were another
factor reducing availability of supply.
UK imports of mouldings and decking products from
China fell from 9,200 tonnes in 2021 to 7,400 tonnes last