Middle East lumber export update
The latest statistics from the USDA show that, during the first ten months of this year, the overall value of US hardwood lumber shipped to the MENA region fell by 7% to USD 41.26 million as compared to the same period in 2010.
At the same time, the volume of shipments remained almost unchanged from the previous year at 58,894 m3. However, these figures are skewed by the substantial drop in the level of trade with Egypt, which was the number one market for American hardwood lumber in the region last year.
While demand in Egypt remains subdued as a result of continuing political unrest and economic uncertainty in the country, demand for American hardwood lumber in all other major Middle East markets was strong during the January to October period of this year. Shipments to Saudi Arabia reached a volume of 12,574 m3 and a value of USD 8.7 million, rising by 43% and 48% respectively on the same period in 2010 and placing it as the new number one market in the region.
Demand in the UAE also held up well during the period, with 10,755 m3 of US hardwood lumber being shipped to the market at a value of USD 8.3 million. This marked a 29% increase in volume and 2% decrease in value over the same period last year. The reason for the disparity between the volume and value change seen in the UAE can be attributed to a shift in the species exported. Much lower volumes of cherry, walnut and ash were shipped to the market during the January to October period of this year, as compared to 2010, while there were significant increases in shipments of red oak.
Significant increases in the shipments of US hardwood lumber were also seen to Israel, Turkey, Kuwait and Morocco during the ten month period. Turkey, in particular, showed substantial growth in demand for US hardwoods and posted gains of 47% in value to USD 4.36 million and 61% in volume to 6,173 m3 during the period.
Demand for US hardwood veneers shows steady growth
Overall, the value of direct shipments of US hardwood veneers to the Middle East and North Africa region grew by 6% during the first ten months of 2011, as compared to the same period last year. The total value of exports reached USD 10.1 million and the principal destinations were Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, UAE and Israel.
Despite the slowdown in the trade of US hardwood lumber with Egypt, demand for US hardwood veneers held up very well and the total value of shipments grew by 33% to USD 7.34 million. At the same time, shipments to Turkey grew by 30% to USD 3.76 million.
Red oak continues to dominate lumber exports
While significant increases were seen in the volume of shipments of white oak and tulipwood to the Middle East and North Africa during the January to October period of this year, red oak still accounted for just over 44% of all exports of American hardwood lumber to the region at a volume of 25,998 m3. The other major species exported were ash, white oak and tulipwood at volumes of 7,616 m3, 6,902 m3 and 6,451 m3 respectively.