Total exports of U.S. hardwood logs, lumber and veneer to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, including Pakistan, reached USD 111.1 million in 2021, according to a statement issued by the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), the leading international trade association for the American hardwood industry. The statistics, which have been compiled from the latest data released from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), reveal a 35 percent overall increase over 2020 figures and a return to levels seen before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. This announcement comes as AHEC confirms its participation in the Dubai WoodShow 2022, which is due to run from 15 to 17 March at the Dubai International Exhibition and Convention Centre.
A closer look at the data reveals that shipments of American hardwood lumber (sawn timber) reached a value of USD 75.8 million and a volume of 92,388 cubic metres, marking an increase of 53 percent and 35 percent respectively over 2020. Meanwhile, direct shipments of U.S. hardwood veneers to the MENA region during 2021 reached a total value of USD 21.0 million, falling by 8 percent over the previous year. However, American hardwood veneers are also shipped to the region from European countries and China, while veneers are also produced in the region - notably in Turkey - from imported American hardwood logs.
Turkey was the region's strongest performer last year, with exports of U.S. hardwood lumber to the market rising by 70 percent in volume to 16,344 cubic metres and by 80 per cent in value to USD 13.5 million, as compared to the previous year. At the same time, USD 5.4 million of hardwood veneers were shipped to Turkey from the United States in addition to USD 9.2 million of American hardwood logs.
Among the other major destinations for American hardwoods in the MENA region, increases were also seen in exports to Pakistan (up by 48 per cent in volume to 14,908 cubic metres), the United Arab Emirates (up by 9 percent in volume to 12,762 cubic metres), Egypt (up by 79 percent in volume to 12,436 cubic metres), Israel (up by 36 per cent in volume to 9,360 cubic metres) and Saudi Arabia (up by 17 per cent in volume to 7,656 cubic metres).
Confident of continued increased growth in demand for U.S. hardwoods across the region, AHEC is participating at the annual Dubai WoodShow again, after a two-year break due to the pandemic. During the three-day show, AHEC will host an American Hardwood Pavilion with individual booths occupied by sixteen U.S. hardwood exporting companies along with the Hardwood States Export Group (HSEG) - a coalition of major eastern U.S. hardwood exporting states – and the National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA).
“Tactile, warm, unique, natural and sustainable are just some of the adjectives ascribed to American hardwoods by architects and designers in the Middle East. Whether it is for a one-off furniture piece or a large-scale interior fit out, hardwoods from the United States are increasingly being specified, as they become better known and more widely appreciated. As a result, the United States is the number one supplier of temperate hardwoods to the Middle East. Timber is certainly experiencing a global renaissance as a preferred material and as architects and designers seek out natural material alternatives across a variety of applications, we expect to see American hardwoods becoming increasingly widely-specified in the region,” concluded Roderick Wiles, AHEC Regional Director.