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 2008

Top story

Government timber procurement policy creates challenges

In recent years, European governments have become heavily engaged the business of developing environmental timber procurement policies. They are being driven on by their mounting concern for illegal logging, which they perceive to be a major source of deforestation and therefore a contributory factor to carbon emissions and climate change.

While the underlying intent of these measures and policies is laudable, from a market perspective they are adding a new layer of uncertainty for those seeking to sell wood products to the European Union. The situation is not helped by the sheer complexity of European government timber procurement requirements which vary widely from country to country. The competitiveness of wood products suppliers in the EU market in the future will be at least partly dependent on how well they read the confusing signals now being sent out by European policy makers.

All this activity is indicative of the importance now attached by European governments to clearing up supply chains and ensuring that wood used in government contracts does derive from well managed sources. But it also highlights the importance of European governments working towards harmonization of procurement policies and of making clear and unambiguous statements with respect to the forms of evidence that will be accepted.

There are some positive moves in this direction. The European Commission is due to issue a Communication on Green Public Procurement in April/May 2008 which, while covering all products, is expected to provide some specific guidance on development of government timber procurement policies. In addition, the UK, Dutch and Danish governments are co-operating in an effort to find common ground for the further development of procurement policy. However an underlying problem, which is very difficult to address, is that European procurement officials tend always to be more responsive to the needs and demands of national interests (including ENGOs, domestic industry and trading companies) than they are to the needs of forestry operators overseas that are actually responsible for implementing sustainable forestry practices .

Also in this issue

  • Ministry opens bidding for seized Ghana teak
  • Ghana’s wood manufacturers lodge appeal to TIDD
  • Malaysian timber sector pins hopes on Japan imports
  • IBAMA teams step up illegal logging investigations
  • Brazil raises intake of US timber
  • Brazilian furniture exports leap 7.2% in early 2008
  • Penalties to be raised under US-Peru FTA
  • Guyana gains from higher value-added products and wider markets
  • Dissolution of NFA will affect shipping of Sarawak timber
  • Tight Southsea lumber supplies seen by mid-2008
  • China’s NTFP exports chalk up hefty growth in 2007
  • EU is largest market for Shangdong furniture exports
  • Demand side issues come to the fore in the UK
  • Improved signs for European construction sector seen
  • European procurement policies pose challenges for suppliers

Data snapshot

Ocean freight Sarawak-Tokyo 2004-2008


Ocean freight rates have been rising steeply since the latter part of 2007. With the dissolution of the Japan Nanyozai Freight Agreement (NFA) at the end of March 2008, shipping companies who were members of the NFA will now need to negotiate freight rates with the Japanese Tax Bureau. This will likely put further pressure on shipping prices along this route in the months to come.

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