Doldrums continue in timber markets, despite significant improvement in Brazil and Mexico

16 January 2024

A worker in a woodflooring factory in Brazil. Photo: R. Carrillo/ITTO

16 January 2024: Timber markets in Brazil and Mexico showed noticeable improvements in December 2023, despite a downturn in the overall performance of the sector, as indicated by the latest edition of the Global Timber Index (GTI) Report, released today. The ITTO-supported GTI Report tracks the timber sectors in seven pilot countries around the world.

Although the GTI values for Mexico (40.9%) and Brazil (49.7%) were still below the threshold of 50% (thus indicating overall decline in the sector) in December, they were up by 12.1 and 7.2 percentage points, respectively, compared with November, suggesting that the downturn in the timber sector had eased in the two countries. In Brazil, there was a marked increase in the volume of new orders.

In Gabon and the Republic of the Congo, GTI values increased by 1.9 and 2.7 percentage points, respectively, in December, although both were still below the 50% threshold. The timber markets in Indonesia and China both grew in the volume of orders (including export orders) compared with November, but most enterprises in the two countries were inclined to reduce inventories, and there was no marked improvement in production and supply.

The three tropical regions of Africa, Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean were challenged by heavy rains in December, which caused landslides, railway damage, logistics disruptions and other problems, affecting timber transportation, production and business activities.

Enterprises in the six tropical GTI countries (Brazil, Gabon, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico and the Republic of the Congo) also reported on other challenges. For example, Brazilian enterprises said substitutes for timber, such as plastic, aluminium and medium-density fibreboard, were affecting product sales; moreover, declining water levels in the Amazon River and the limited availability of containers had decreased harvesting volumes. Gabonese enterprises reported that heavy rains had made it difficult to obtain the necessary resources for production, and some were unable to deliver logs to buyers on schedule. Malaysian enterprises expressed concern about the impacts of conflicts on the global economy, which could affect timber demand in global markets. Mexican enterprises said their forestry activities were hindered by a lack of equipment to transport logs to sawmills.

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