EU plywood imports rise to near record levels

19 April 2017


EU imports of plywood increased by 8% to 4.13 million m3 in 2016, the second highest level ever recorded, although some way short of the peak of around 4.50 million m3 in 2007 according to the latest market report from the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO).

Much of the gain in 2016 was due to a sharp increase in imports of birch plywood from Russia encouraged by extreme weakness of the Russian rouble against the Euro and other EU currencies.

In 2016, EU imports of Russian birch plywood increased 25% to 1.08 million m3, with most destined for Germany, the Baltic States, Poland, the UK and Netherlands.

EU imports of tropical hardwood plywood also increased last year. Imports of products manufactured in tropical countries increased 11% to 320,000m3 in 2016, while imports of products faced with tropical hardwood manufactured in China increased 25% to 120,000m3..

In 2016, the share of tropical countries in total EU plywood imports recovered a little ground, rising to 7.8% after sliding to an all-time low of 7.5% in 2015.

However, Russian birch plywood achieved by far the largest increase in share of EU imports last year, rising from 22.4% in 2015 to 26.0% in 2016.

This was largely at the expense of Chinese plywood faced with non-tropical hardwoods (including birch plywood, mixed light hardwood made with plantation grown poplar and eucalyptus, and various other forms of combi-plywood).