Boost in orders is good sign for timber market recovery

16 April 2024

Pallet manufacturing in Thailand. Photo: Nonthaphat Saetan/ITTO

16 April 2024: After a sluggish start globally in January and February, timber markets in some countries hit positive territory in March 2024 and orders were up in most pilot countries, according to the latest edition of the Global Timber Index (GTI) Report, released today. The ITTO-supported GTI tracks the timber sectors in eight pilot countries.

The GTI values for Brazil (54.4%), China (66.8%) and Thailand (54.8%) were all above the threshold of 50% in March (up from 39.6%, 31.7% and 45.6%, respectively), thus indicating an upward trend in their timber sectors. Brazil’s GTI exceeded the threshold for the first time in 17 months, with a large increase in orders, especially from abroad. In China, the GTI recorded a notable rise, mainly because it was growing from a low base in February (when there was a long holiday break)—the full resumption of production and trading in March meant the GTI value grew considerably. In Thailand, harvesting, production and orders all showed significant growth in March. 

Timber markets remained relatively sluggish in March in Republic of the Congo (GTI = 44.1%), Gabon (31.9%), Indonesia (37.1%), Malaysia (25.7%) and Mexico (40.3%). Nevertheless, positive signs were evident in production and trading: for example, the GTI subindex for orders (including export orders) increased in both Indonesia and Malaysia in March, and the export-orders subindex in the Congo and the harvesting subindex in Mexico also rose.

After enduring a considerable period of market downturn, GTI-participating enterprises were understandably calling for more effective measures to reduce costs and increase efficiency. Indonesian enterprises expressed hope for government intervention to promote the development of domestic wood product markets and provide incentives for enterprises that manage forests sustainably. Malaysian enterprises suggested that the government encourage the construction sector to increase the use of sawn timber. Thai enterprises want to raise people’s awareness about the values of wood products and encourage them to embrace the use of natural wood. Gabonese and Mexican enterprises hoped to strengthen communication with potential international clients to promote the sale of wood products. Congolese enterprises want the government to step up the formulation of detailed rules for the implementation of the country’s new Forest Code. Brazilian enterprises sought improvement in customs clearance efficiency for exports.

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