Market Information Service

Towards greater transparency in the tropical timber markets

The ITTO Tropical Timber Market (TTM) Report, an output of the ITTO Market Information Service (MIS), is published in English every two weeks with the aim of improving transparency in the international tropical timber market. The TTM provides market trends and trade news from around the world, as well as indicative prices for over 400 tropical timber and added-value products.



16-31 March 2010

Top story

Ecobuild features alternatives to tropical plywood

Mounting concerns over the future availability of tropical hardwood plywood combined with continuing widespread misconceptions about the environmental credentials of tropical timber, is seen as a major opportunity by alternative materials suppliers.

These suppliers were out in force at the Ecobuild trade show held in the UK recently.

Ecobuild has now overtaken Interbuild as the UK’s leading construction industry fair. This rapid growth in Ecobuild, which showcases green building systems and materials, provides a very strong indication of the significance of sustainability issues in the UK construction sector.

The market position of hardwood plywood products was under assault from various directions at Ecobuild.

Also in this issue

  • Gabon log export scheme
  • Building activity encourages industry
  • Hint of furniture export recovery
  • Japan aims at 50% self sufficiency
  • Timber prices set to rise in China
  • Ecobuild Show - alternatives to tropical plywood

Data snapshot

Turning point for Japan’s timber sector


The total volume of logs and lumber imported into Japan in 2009 fell below 10 mil. cubic metres for the first time in 47 years. For 2009 a total of 9,859,000 cubic metres was imported less than half that imported in 2005. In another first, lumber imports from Russia and from tropical countries exceeded that of logs. Domestic log production is now more than twice the level of log imports.

Demand for wood products in Japan has been badly hit by the very depressed housing market. Property prices have been falling steadily for the past decade and housing starts are at record lows.

Tropical logs were once the mainstay of the Japanese timber industry but as supply countries began to restrict log exports and as China and India began to increase log imports prices rose to levels beyond the level at which mills in Japan could make a profit from processing imported logs.

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