China regains share of US plywood market
US imports of hardwood plywood fell by 9% in September
with an across-the-board decline in both volume and
value, the exception was China. Import volumes from
China increased 29% in September, slowing a prolonged
slide. Yet, hardwood plywood imports from China still
trail 2017 imports by more than 75% year-to-date.
Meanwhile, imports from Indonesia, Vietnam and
Malaysia all fell in September, yet those countries are all
well ahead in for the year as they capitalise on the lost
trade from China.
Due to rising prices, the value of plywood imports are up
by 6% at US$1.4 billion year-to-date even though the
volume of hardwood plywood imported is down by 13%.
Veneer imports continue to advance despite
US Census Bureau, Foreign Trade Statistics show that
while monthly US imports of tropical hardwood veneer
plunged by over one-third in September, they were still
more than 40% higher than those of September 2017.
Year-to-date imports are outpacing 2017 by 42%.
The September drop was fueled by the yearly seasonal
decline in imports from Italy, which is the largest supplier
of hardwood veneer for the US. Despite the monthly drop,
Italian imports remain up 28% for the year. Chinese
imports are up by 66% even after a somewhat smaller
Flooring and moulding imports cool after a ¡®hot¡¯
Hardwood flooring imports dropped 15% in September
from August, ending a long period of expansion that has
seen total imports rise by nearly 40% for the year so far.
The decline was mostly due to a 78% month-to-month
drop in imports from Brazil and a drop of 24% from China
as the two countries came down from exceptionally strong
Imports from Malaysia rose by 18% in September with
2018 numbers nearly doubling those of 2017 year-to-date.
Imports from Indonesia declined in September and are
now down more than one-third from last year.
Assembled flooring also declined in September after
showing nice growth mid-year Declining imports from
Brazil were the cause of the drop in this category as well.
Overall, imports in this area are up 7% year-to-date.
Imports from China and Canada, which account for over
half of the market, were both down slightly in September
but remain ahead of 2017 year-to-date.
US hardwood moulding imports typically decline from
August to September, but a drop of 23% led to the worst
month in more than 5 years at just under US$13 million.
Imports from Brazil, China and Malaysia were all down
for the month, yet they are all modestly ahead of 2017
Imports from Canada have been lagging by nearly a
quarter this year but were helped by a 30% rise from
August to September. Total US imports are now down 3%
for the year after being ahead of the 2017 pace for most of
Wooden Furniture Imports Fall in August
US imports of wooden furniture fell by 4% in September
from August, yet outpaced September 2017 figures by
nearly 5%. The US$1.57 billion total for the month kept
US imports at about 6% above the 2017 year-to-date.
Imports from the largest suppliers, China and Vietnam, are
both up 6% year-to-date despite falling slightly in
September. Imports from Canada, which have lagged all
year, increased by 9% in September.
US economy continues to add jobs in construction and
The latest data from US Bureau of Labor Statistics shows
total nonfarm payroll employment in the US rose by
250,000 in October, and the unemployment rate was
unchanged at 3.7 percent. Job gains occurred in health
care, manufacturing, construction, and transportation and
Construction employment rose by 30,000 in October, with
nearly half of the gain occurring among residential
specialty trade contractors (+14,000). So far in 2018
construction has added 330,000 jobs.
In October, employment in manufacturing increased by
32,000. Most of the increase occurred in durable goods
manufacturing, with a gain in transportation equipment
(+10,000). Manufacturing has added 296,000 jobs in 2018,
largely in durable goods industries.
Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in
October, and the overall economy grew for the 114th
consecutive month, say the nation¡¯s supply executives in
the latest Manufacturing ISM Report on Business.
However, consumption has softened, with production and
employment continuing to expand, but at lower levels
compared with September. Demand remains moderately
strong, however, the New Orders Index eased below 60
percent for the first time since April 2017.
Cabinet Sales Soften
According to a press release from the Kitchen Cabinet
Manufacturers Association on its monthly Trend of
Business Survey, participating cabinet manufacturers
reported an increase in cabinet sales of 2.3% for
September 2018 compared to the same month in 2017.
Stock sales increased 9.4%; semi-custom sales decreased
5.6%; and custom sales increased 5.2% compared to
However, the numbers tell a different story compared to
the previous month (August 2018), sales are down 1.9%.
Stock sales decreased 4.4% and semi-custom decreased
1% compared to August. Custom sales saw the only
growth in September with an increase of 4.9%.
Year to date cabinetry sales through September 2018 are
up 1.9% according to participating manufacturers. Stock
sales are up 4.1%; semi-custom sales continue to decrease
with a downturn of 1.1%; and custom sales are up 4.3%.
New Furniture Orders Rise
New furniture orders in August 2018 increased 9% over
new orders reported in August 2017, according to the most
recent Smith Leonard survey of residential manufacturers
and distributors. The 9% increase in August followed three
consecutive months of 5% increases reported.
Approximately 70% of the participants reported increased
orders in August.
Year to date, new orders remained 6% over the same
period a year ago. August 2017 year-to-date orders were
also 6% ahead of the same 2016 period so the comparisons
are tshowing onsistently improving numbers. Some 71%
of the participants reported increased year-to-date orders.
US businesses paying 50% more in tariffs
A recent study found that US businesses paid US$4.4
billion in tariffs in September, up more than 50% from the
same month the previous year. Former Congressman
Charles Boustany, who serves as a spokesman for the
Tariffs Hurt the Heartland Campaign, the group that
sponsored the study, said that "the historic rise in costs for
American businesses, farmers and consumers is only the
beginning...Instead of doubling down on tariffs that this
data shows are clearly hurting Americans, it is time for
meaningful negotiations to take place."
In related news many US trade associations representing
thousands of businesses have come together to form
¡®Americans for Free Trade¡¯ (AFT) aimed at opposing
tariffs and highlighting the benefits of international trade
to the U.S. economy.
It has been reported that the AFT will cooperate closely
within the ¡®Farmers for Free Trade¡¯ which is supported by
major agricultural produces who launched the ¡®Tariffs
Hurt the Heartland¡¯ campaign.