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.



1-15 November 2007

Top story

China’s buying pattern slips in West Africa

Some producers in Gabon are logging only okoume and some selected premium red species, notably sapele and sipo. This is in response to the change in China’s buying patterns of logs, since interest in non-premium timbers has disappeared. This is also the case with exports from Congo Brazzaville. Prices have held so far, though exporters to Europe note with concern the oversupply of softwood sawn lumber in European markets, which has caused some Scandinavian shippers to scale down production. Although not directly competing with premium grade tropical hardwoods, this slow down indicates a dampening of market sentiment in the timber industry.

Winter in Europe normally brings a period of slower activity in the building and construction sector, though it is reported that house building in France and the Netherlands has improved. UK government also has signaled the need for a very substantial increase in house building, though it is likely to be considerable time before this translates into actual housing starts.

West African producers also note the change in Far East timber markets, which have slowed in recent weeks. Although there have not been dramatic decreases in prices, there is some weakness, especially in the plywood situation. This does not impact too heavily on West Africa where plywood exports are relatively small, but could well prompt tighter competition with Malaysia and Papua New Guinea for log sales to China. West African producers are having to settle into the log quota systems that are now being more fully implemented and the full effects of this restriction on log exports have yet to be seen.

Also in this issue

  • China’s demand slips for West African logs
  • Ghana’s PURC approves 35% increase in utility tariffs
  • Planted forest project to double timber production in Sarawak
  • Indonesian VP notes shared responsibility for forest destruction
  • Timber baron cleared of illegal logging charges in Indonesia
  • BNDES announces timber sector loans
  • Brazil considers partnership with China
  • Peru’s President calls for greater utilization of natural resources
  • Bolivia’s wood products exports reach USD71 million
  • Guyana’s GFC conducts workshops on wood processing
  • Ocean freight costs to Japan raise log prices
  • Shimane softwood plywood to substitute for Southsea hardwood
  • Japan’s plywood imports continue to fall
  • China sees rapid growth during first three quarters of 2007
  • Demand for African lumber in Europe wanes
  • UK furniture sector may underperform in 2008
  • Peru FTA passes in US House of Representatives
  • Canada outpaces US residential furniture market

Data snapshot

China log imports by major country of origin, January–September 2007


According to the latest statistics from China customs agencies, foreign trade of China’s major wood products continue to grow rapidly in the first three quarters of 2007. The total value of China’s major wood products imports and exports rose 31.9% to USD42.43 billion. Of the total, the value of China’s major wood products imports grew 24.3% to USD17.81 billion and the value of China’s major wood products export rose 27.8% to USD24.63 billion.

China’s log imports totaled 28.71 million m3 and were valued at USD4.07 billion during January to September of 2007, up 18% in volume and 42.3% in value from the same period in 2006. Of the total, softwood log imports amounted to 17.92 million m3 in volume and USD1.81 billion, accounting for 62% in volume and 44% in value. Hardwood log imports were 10.78 million m3 in volume and valued at USD2.26 billion, making up 38% in volume and 56% in value.

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