Lower hardwood plywood imports from Indonesia and
Imports of all major wood products declined in September,
but the steepest drop was in hardwood plywood imports.
US imports of hardwood plywood declined from 290,946
cu.m. in August to 219,290 cu.m. in September.
Lower shipments from Indonesia (23,122 cu.m.)
accounted for much of the decline, but imports from China
also decreased. Imports from China were 105,874 cu.m. in
September, down 18% from the previous month.
More hardwood moulding from Brazil
Hardwood moulding imports declined to US$15.0 million
in September, down 10% from the previous month.
All major suppliers shipped less except Canada whose
shipment increased by 26%. Imports from China fell by
11% to US$4.0 million in September.
Flooring imports down in first three qtrs, except from
Indonesia, Brazil and Canada
Imports of assembled flooring panels were worth US$9.3
million, down 15% from August. Imports from Canada
grew by 9% to US$2.2 million in September. China¡®s
shipments declined by 18% to US$5.4 million.
Hardwood flooring imports also decreased in September.
Imports were just US$2.4 million in September, and yearto-
date imports are 16% lower than at the same time last
year. Only imports from Indonesia are higher than in 2012.
Higher wooden furniture imports from Mexico and
The US imported US$1.13 billion worth of wooden
furniture in September. Year-to-date imports remain 5%
higher than in 2012.
US trade statistics report very low imports from China and
Vietnam in September, but it remains to be seen whether
imports from these two countries were in fact down by
90% or if it was a reporting error.
Furniture imports from Canada and Mexico grew in
September, while Malaysia and Indonesia shipped less
compared to the previous month.
Economy improves despite federal government
The US economy continued to grow in October despite the
federal government shutdown, according to the Institute of
Supply Management. Most businesses appear not affected
by the government shutdown in early October or by the
threat of a government default on its debt.
Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded
for the fifth consecutive month in October. Both the
furniture and the wood products sectors reported
improving business conditions.
The unemployment rate was 7.2% in September, almost
unchanged from 7.3% in August, according to the US
Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Consumer confidence down
Consumer confidence in the US economy fell again in
October, according to the Thomson Reuters/University of
25 ITTO TTM Report 17:23 1- 15 December 2013
Michigan consumer sentiment index. Consumers felt that
the government shutdown and reduced government
spending would have a negative effect on the economy.
Many consumers even expressed the view that the
government has become the main obstacle to stronger
economic growth. Only 25% expect their personal
financial situation to improve in the coming year.
Construction cost and mortgage rates affect home
Builder confidence in the market for newly built singlefamily
homes declined in October, but the majority of
builders remain positive about the market outlook.
Source: US Census Bureau, CMHC
Builder confidence continues to be affected by higher
mortgage rates and construction costs, according to the
National Association of Home Builders. Uncertainty about
government policies contributed to a slowdown in demand
for new homes.
Home builders¡® confidence was highest in the Midwest in
October but declined in the Northeast and West.
Home prices outpace income growth
The most recent US housing statistics are not yet available
because of the government shutdown in October. The
National Association of Home Builders estimated
September housing starts at 875,000 to 900,000
(seasonally adjusted annual rate). More single-family
construction contributes to the improvement, according to
Sales of existing homes declined 1.9% from August to
September, at seasonally adjusted rates. The National
Association of Realtors makes the increase in home prices
responsible for the slowdown. Housing affordability fell as
home price increases outpaced income growth.
Canadian housing market strong in urban centres
Canadian housing starts grew by 5.5% to 196,000 in
September (seasonally adjusted annual rate). Much of the
growth was in multi-family construction in urban areas.
The Canadian Housing and Mortgage Corporation still
expects overall housing starts in 2013 to decline from the
previous, but recent data indicates that demand for both
new and existing homes remains strong.
Hardwood promotion program proposed
The US Department of Agriculture has released the
proposed hardwood lumber and hardwood plywood
research and promotion programme. The programme
would carry out promotion of US hardwood lumber and
plywood to increase their consumption.
All US manufacturers of hardwood lumber and plywood
would pay for the programme. The government invites
comments on the programme until January 14, 2014. After
that a referendum will be held among US manufacturers
on whether to implement the programme.
Promotion programmes are common in the US for
agricultural commodities such as milk, cotton and
soybeans. The hardwood programme would be the first
promotion programme in the wood industry.
Environmental product declarations for LEED
The US Green Building Council has announced that it will
develop environmental product declarations for building
materials in partnership with the certification company
Underwriter Laboratories. The US Green Building Council
runs the LEED green building certification program.
The environmental products declarations will disclose the
environmental impacts of building materials. LEED is the
leading green building program in North America and it
integrates environmental product declarations in its newest
version of the certification system.
Environmental and Health Statements for flooring
Flooring producer Tarkett has developed a transparency
tool that provides all product ingredients and the
environmental and health risks.
The tool, Environmental and Health Statements, will soon
be available in Tarkett¡®s North American markets. It is
expected to meet the growing demand by architects,
builders and green building programs for more
environmental and health information about building