Tropical hardwood log imports down in 2015—ITTO report
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Frances Maplesden presents elements of the biennial review of the world timber situation at the 52nd Session of the International Tropical Timber Council, Yokohama, 8 November 2016. Photo: K. Sato/ITTO

Global tropical hardwood log imports dropped by more than one-tenth in 2015, despite an increase in 2013 and 2014, according to preliminary results of ITTO’s biennial review of the world timber situation. Frances Maplesden, an expert on the world timber trade, presented the draft review on Tuesday 8 November 2016 at the 52nd session of the International Tropical Timber Council in Yokohama.
The Biennial Review and Assessment of the World Timber Situation provides data and analysis on the production and trade of tropical forest products in ITTO member countries. The primary source of information is the Joint Forest Sector Questionnaire—a joint venture between ITTO, FAO, the UNECE and Eurostat—sent to member countries each year.
Although tropical hardwood log imports by ITTO members accelerated in 2014, said Ms Maplesden, imports dropped by 12 percent in 2015 (the most recent year for which data are available), to 16.9 million m3. She attributed most of the decline to a significant drop in China’s imports, where overstocking and slowing construction activity affected demand.

ITTO producer member countries produced 237.6 million m3 of tropical logs in 2015, according to the draft review, with Indonesia, India, Brazil and Malaysia accounting for two-thirds of total production, the bulk of which was in the Asia-Pacific region.

Trade in secondary processed wood products (SPWPs), which had accelerated in 2013 and 2014, declined in value in 2015, with global imports valued at US$89.2 billion. Trade in wooden furniture, the most important SPWP, is dominated by imports by the USA, European Union countries and Japan, and exports from China and Viet Nam. Malaysia and Indonesia were important tropical exporters in 2015, although their exports have remained relatively static and exports by China and Viet Nam have increased significantly in the last decade.

The outlook for the tropical timber trade in 2016 and beyond remains uncertain. Major issues include potential risks regarding China’s economic growth and demand, and the growing trade between countries regarded as being at “high risk” of illegal logging and trade.

Speaking after the presentation, a delegate of Guatemala informed Council members that, thanks to projects financed by ITTO, Guatemala now had in place a system for disseminating the country’s latest forest statistics via a website. He also said that, as a result of other ITTO projects, Guatemala was in a better position to generate reliable data on timber production.

Ms Maplesden’s full presentation is available here.

Also today, the Council’s Committee on Finance and Administration met to discuss various financial and administrative matters. Among these, Committee members questioned officers from BDO, the company that conducted audits of ITTO’s financial statements in the previous three years. The Committee also received a presentation on the structure of ITTO accounts with a view to later in the week considering a proposal to amend the financial rules of the Organization to improve its transparency and governance. The Committee will continue to meet throughout the week, and the Council’s technical committees will begin their sessions tomorrow.

In its afternoon session today, the Council received an updated report from the Credentials Committee. It also voted on whether there should be a special vote on the candidates for the position of Executive Director, but a simple majority was not achieved, and deliberations on the matter will continue during the week.

The International Tropical Timber Council meets at least once a year to discuss a wide-ranging agenda aimed at promoting sustainable tropical forest management and the trade of sustainably produced tropical timber.
Daily coverage of the session by the Earth Negotiations Bulletin is available at

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Chair of the International Tropical Timber Council, Jennifer Conje, on the podium flanked by the Vice-Chair, Tabi Agyarko (left), and ITTO Officer-in-Charge, Steve Johnson(right), Yokohama, 8 November 2016. Photo: K. Sato/ITTO

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Delegates study the results of a vote at the 52nd Session of the International Tropical Timber Council, Yokohama, 8 November 2016. Photo: K. Sato/ITTO

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Katharina Kuehmayer (left), Senior Policy Officer at the Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Economy, Vienna, Austria, chats with interpreter Odile Bertin Faull on the sidelines of the 52nd Session of the International Tropical Timber Council, Yokohama, 8 November 2016. Photo: K. Sato/ITTO
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Delegates from China at the 52nd Session of the International Tropical Timber Council, Yokohama, 8 November 2016. Photo: K. Sato/ITTO