Year-to-date tropical sawnwood imports are up 13%
US imports of sawn tropical hardwood continue to decline
from the higher levels seen at the end of last year. The
latest data is for May and these show that imports were
15,197 cu.m., down 5% from April, but on a year-to-date
basis imports are still up 13% from 2010 levels.
Imports of balsa were 4,808 cu.m. (-10% year-to-date), ipe
1,756 cu.m. (+37% year-to-date), keruing 1,044 cu.m.
(+157% year-to-date), acajou d¡¯Afrique 1,159 cu.m. (-
10% year-to-date), mahogany 601 cu.m. (-15% year-todate),
and virola 387 cu.m. (+105% year-to-date).
Imports from Ecuador, the largest source of imported
tropical sawnwood, rose by 20% to 4,843 cu.m. in May.
Balsa accounts for almost all of Ecuador¡¯s sawnwood
exports to the US. Imports from Brazil were 2,563 cu.m.,
with ipe accounting for 1,610 cu.m.
Imports from Malaysia declined from the previous month
to 1,560 cu.m. because keruing imports fell 44% to 999
Sawnwood imports from Cameroon jumped by 55% from
April to 1,697 cu.m. in May due to higher sapelli imports.
Monthly import volumes of key imported species by
country of origin are shown in the chart below.
Drop in US hardwood plywood imports
US hardwood plywood imports dropped by 22% in May
after a brief surge in April. The US imported 194,525
cu.m. of hardwood plywood in May 2011, up 13%
compared to year-to-date May 2010.
China, Indonesia and Malaysia all exported less to the US
in May, while Ecuador increased exports to 4,533 cu.m. (-
2% year-to-date). Imports from China were 132,686 cu.m.
(+47% year-to-date), from Indonesia 13,356 cu.m. (-25%
year-to-date), and from Malaysia 3,798 cu.m. (-59% yearto-
Hardwood moulding imports from China rise again
US hardwood moulding imports declined by 9% to
US$17.0 million in May, ending the period of growth that
started in February. However, moulding imports are still
up 22% on a year-to-date basis.
Indonesia saw the largest increase in May, while Brazil
remained the largest supplier to the US market at US$5.5
million (+59% year-to-date). China is catching up to
Brazil, with imports from China reaching US$5.1 million
in May (+3% year-to-date).
The smaller moulding suppliers Mexico, Paraguay,
Taiwan P.o.C and Bolivia have increased their share in the
US market since late 2010. Hardwood moulding imports
from Malaysia were US$1.1 million (+54% year-to-date).
Malaysia largest supplier of hardwood flooring in May
Flooring imports continued to recover in May despite the
poor condition of the US housing market. The US
imported US$1.9 million worth of hardwood flooring in
May, up just 2% from April but up 74% compared to yearto-
In May Malaysia surpassed China as the US¡¯ largest
source of hardwood flooring imports. Malaysia shipped
US$432,000 in May (+121% year-to-date), while China
exported US$387,000 (+62%).
Imports from Brazil were US$265,000 (+39% year-todate)
and from Indonesia US$59,000 (+168% year-todate).
US GDP growth worse than previously projected
The US Department of Commerce released revisions of
past economic figures that revealed the US economy
performed even more poorly than previously thought.
Economic growth in the first quarter of 2011 had initially
been estimated at 1.9%, but it was revised down to just
0.4%. Spending cuts of state and local governments
contributed negatively to growth, more than offsetting the
GDP growth figures from 2007 to 2010 were also revised
and revealed that the recession was worse than economists
had thought. The US economy shrank by 3.5% in 2009
instead of the previously stated 2.6%.
The worse than expected economic performance over the
past four years helps explain the persistently high
unemployment figures. Federal policies to boost the
economy have underestimated the extent of the recession.
Current plans to slash federal spending to reach a deal to
raise the US government¡¯s debt limit may further slow the
country¡¯s poor recovery from the recession.
Imported flooring set to expand market share in US
US demand for hard surface flooring is expected to
increase by 5.6% annually to 2015 according to the latest
Freedonia market study on flooring (Hard Surface
Flooring to 2015, published July 2011). US consumers
continue to favour hard surface floors over carpets.
Laminate flooring in residential buildings will see the
strongest growth, followed by wood and tile flooring.
Vinyl flooring currently accounts for the majority of the
hard surface floors sold in the US, but market growth is
forecast to be below that of laminates and wood.
Freedonia expects imports to capture a growing share of
the US market, led by vinyl and tile flooring made in
China and Brazil, but also because of growing demand for
tropical wood, bamboo and cork flooring.
Salvaged tropical logs held up by Canadian Food Inspection Agency
A shipment of logs salvaged from a river in Belize cannot
be released because the Canadian Food Inspection Agency
requires fumigation with methyl bromide according to
The owner of the logs, Canadian company WaterForest, is
unable to carry out the treatment because Canada prohibits
the manufacture and import of methyl bromide.
Methyl bromide is ozone-depleting and was supposed to
be phased out by 2005 in developed countries WaterForest
fumigated the logs with another pesticide which would be
an acceptable treatment for shipments to the US.
It is unclear whether the logs will be destroyed or shipped
back to Belize or to the US if the fumigation with methyl
bromide is not carried out in Canada. The 4,300 cu.m.
shipment includes species that are now protected by
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.