We could have been forgiven for thinking that Pfleiderer was destined to become a name of the past, with all the bad financial news it has been releasing in recent years. However, the biggest planned new capacity for western Europe is for that company’s Neumarkt premises – and for a not inconsiderable 350,000m3 a year capacity. However, it is eastern Europe, and particularly Russia, that is promising significant new capacity in particleboard over the next one to four years.

We have tidied up the listings a little this year and I hope that you find the alphabetical country listings rather more logical than the previous ‘geo-political’ system.

In the next, December 2013/January 2014, issue of WBPI, we will publish the listings of mills outside Europe and North America and would really appreciate your assistance with information on mills and their capacities (see text box below this column for details).

For our annual Focus on Latin America, our correspondent Richard Higgs visited several panel makers in Ecuador, Colombia and Brazil to report on their latest plans. However, the recent period of dramatic growth in the region’s panel industry has experienced a marked deceleration and our economics expert Bernard Fuller questions whether this is just a readjustment, or whether the variety of structural and political issues which afflict most Latin American countries could be undermining future progress. Of course a major external factor in that is the future direction of the Chinese economy. I commend Bernard’s article to you, which kicks off our Focus.

The positive attitude I have mentioned in my recent Comments is still there in an increasing number of countries, except of course those which have very serious financial issues (for one example, Greece).

As I write this column, Angela Merkel has just been given her third term as Chancellor of Germany, with an increased majority. While that won’t be good news to all Germans of course, perhaps it does give some much-needed stability to the EU, with its most important economic player maybe ‘steadying the ship of Europe’ as it continues to navigate turbulent waters.

Also as I write, Syria is still giving much cause for concern, although the threat of armed intervention by US or other UN countries has receded, at least for the time being. If that situation re-escalates, I suspect all bets on global economic stability could be off.