Solid growth seen in exports to most Middle East markets
Total exports of American hardwood lumber to the Middle East-North Africa (MENA) region during 2011 reached 69,520 m3 and a value of USD 49.25 million.
While this represented a 1% decrease in volume and a 7% decrease in value over the previous year, this decline was entirely due to a reduction in exports to Egypt, which was the main destination for US hardwood lumber in 2010.
In fact, with the exception of Egypt, exports to region’s main markets grew significantly, rising by 30% in volume to the United Arab Emirates, 39% to Saudi Arabia, 67% to Turkey and 5% to Israel.
With respect to US hardwood veneers, direct shipments to the MENA region reached a total value of USD 20.63 million in 2011, rising by 10% from the previous year. These numbers do not, however, take in to account US hardwood veneers shipped to the region from other countries, such as Italy, Germany, Turkey and China.
While US hardwood lumber exports to Egypt declined significantly during2011, shipments of veneer grew by 32% to a value of USD 9.30 million. One reason for the disparity is that US hardwood lumber was overstocked in Egypt in 2010.
Direct shipments of US hardwood veneers to Turkey also picked up during 2011 and rose by 12% on the previous year. This trend is expected to continue, as the Turkish construction, interiors and furniture sectors continue to enjoy buoyant market conditions and as American hardwoods become better known in the market.
In terms of species, shipments of US hardwood lumber to the MENA region during 2011 were dominated by red oak, which accounted for 45% of total exports at 30,978 m3. This marked a 14% increase over the previous year. Increases were also seen in the volumes of white oak, walnut and tulipwood shipped to the region, whilst shipments of ash declined significantly.
Architects and interior designers in the region have shown increasing interest in American black walnut in recent years, while projects being specified today are often featuring American white oak. This European trend has spread to the region along with the designers themselves, many of whom come from Europe, Australia and North America. This is particularly relevant in the UAE, where the majority of the region’s architects and designers are based.
In terms of US hardwood veneers shipped to the region during 2011, red oak was also the dominant species, accounting for 42% of total exports and reaching a value of USD 8.75 million. Walnut and white oak were the other two major species shipped in veneer form from the United States.
While AHEC has no mandate to promote hardwood log exports from the United States, tracking shipments is, nonetheless, important. In 2011, total US hardwood log exports to the MENA region reached a volume of 46,278 m3 and value of USD 26.35 million. This represents an 11% decrease in volume and a 9% decrease in value over the previous year.
The major destinations for US hardwood logs in 2011 were the United Arab Emirates (13,692 m3), Turkey (9,447 m3) and Egypt (6,801 m3). In fact, the UAE has emerged as an important market for US hardwood logs, but evidence suggests that the majority of these are re-exported to a wide range of nearby countries, including Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Somalia and Iran.
In terms of species, red oak accounted for some 29% of all log shipments, while white oak, walnut, ash and tulipwood made up the remainder.