Private sector urges peaceful transfer of power
US business groups urged a peaceful transfer of power and
calm after a pro-Trump protest turned into a violent
insurrection in the US Capitol Building. Late in the
evening on Jan. 6th, Congress in a Joint Session
reconvened after the Capitol was secured and Vice
President Pence announced the results of the certified
electoral votes affirming a Biden/Harris win.
This ceremonial action paved the way for the inauguration
on 20 January. Concern and outrage about the violent
protest continue to reverberate in Washington and
The US Chamber of Commerce summed up the alarm of
the business community with this statement: ¡°The
Chamber and our members will lend all assistance
necessary to ensure a successful and peaceful transfer of
power on 20 January and to help President-elect Biden and
the new Congress address the many challenges that
confront our nation, most notably ending the pandemic
that has killed more than 360,000 Americans, imperiled
our economy, closed tens of thousands of small
businesses, and put millions out of work.¡±
US tropical hardwood imports fall
US imports of sawn tropical hardwood fell in November.
The 12,787 cubic metres imported in November was
nearly 23% below the volume imported in November of
last year. Year to November 2020 imports were down 35%
Imports from Brazil rose 18% in November and imports
from Cameroon were more than double that of the
previous month. However, November imports from
Ecuador, Malaysia, Cote d¡¯Ivoire, and Congo
(Brazzaville) were all roughly half of October¡¯s numbers.
Imports of ipe rose 49% in November 2020 and are now
ahead of 2019 year on year, if only by 1%. Except for
iroko (up 133%), imports of all other hardwood sawnwood
species were trailing that of last year.
Canadian imports of tropical hardwood fell by 16% in
November and are down 17% year to November.
Hardwood plywood imports up 9%
US imports of hardwood plywood rose for the third
straight month in November 2020, gaining 9%. The
volume of 277,149 cubic metres was the highest since
May 2017. Imports from Vietnam and Russia were both
up by more than 20%.
Imports from Indonesia rose 13% in November 2020and
are ahead of 2019 by 38%. Imports from China were down
29% for the month and are now down 40% year to
November 2020. However, overall US hardwood
plywood imports were up 7% for the year to November
November bump helps veneer imports rebound
US imports of tropical hardwood veneer vaulted a much
needed 40% in November 2020 marking a third straight
month of growth.
Imports for the month were nearly 7% better than in
November 2020 marking the only month this year where
imports outpaced the previous year¡¯s total. Year to
November imports trail by nearly 30% even with the
recent improvement. Despite more than doubling in
November, year to date imports from Ghana were still
down by 57%.
Hardwood flooring imports surged
US imports of hardwood flooring grew by 18% in
November, surging to the highest level of 2020. While
imports for the month were more than 22% higher than the
previous November, imports are still down 23% year to
The November gain was fueled by a 46% increase in
imports from Brazil. Imports from Brazil were now down
only 4% for the year to November after lagging much
further behind most of the year.
Imports from China and Malaysia were behind by more
than 50% up to November and dipped further in
Imports of assembled flooring panels fell by 4% in
November but remain ahead 8% year to November. A
nearly 40% increase in imports from Indonesia in
November was more than offset by sharp declines in
imports from China and Vietnam. Imports from Indonesia
were up nearly 20% for the 11 months to November 2020.
US moulding imports up slightly
US imports of hardwood moulding rose 2% in October,
continuing their climb after a poor autumn. Imports were
down 14% year to November despite a rise in November.
Imports from China grew by 30% in November but
remained down by 25% for the year. Similarly, imports
from Brazil were up 21% in November but were down
48% compared to November 2019.
US wooden furniture imports surpass US$2 in
Monthly US imports of wooden furniture surpassed US$2
billion for the first time in November. Imports rose 4%,
growing for the sixth straight month.
Despite the record growth, year to November imports were
down about 1% from last 2019 due to the impact of the
pandemic this spring.
Imports from India rose by 15% in November, while
imports from most other partners stayed fairly stable,
neither rising nor falling by more than 10%. Imports from
Vietnam rose 8% and were up 31% year to date.
This growth mirrored that of the residential furniture
market. According to the Smith Leonard Furniture Insights
report, new orders in October increased over the same
period from a year ago for the fifth straight month,
increasing 40% over October 2019.
Some 77% of Smith Leonard survey participants reported
increased orders in October. The increase in October
brought the year-to-date gain to 14%, up from 11%
reported last month. For the 10 months ended October,
orders were up for 59% of the participants.
Residential furniture manufacturers continued to report
strong order performance, though they are saying the size
of the increases has slowed.
US housing starts rise for a third-straight month
US new home construction rose more than forecast to a
nine-month high in November 2020 highlighting the
strength of a residential housing market that¡¯s been
supported by strong demand amid low interest rates.
Residential starts rose 1.2% to a 1.547 million annualised
rate from a downwardly revised 1.528 million a month
earlier according to government reports. New construction
strength was broad-based nationally.
Starts climbed in all four regions, led by a 12.9% rise in
the Northeast, according to the report, which is published
jointly by the Census Bureau and the Department of
Housing and Urban Development.
A separate report Wednesday showed that US
homebuilder confidence eased slightly in December to the
second-best level on record following the prior month¡¯s
Meanwhile, sales of existing homes turned lower in
November after five consecutive months of gains. They
fell 2.5% on a month-to-month basis to a seasonally
adjusted annualized rate of 6.69 million units, according to
the National Association of Realtors. Sales were a strong
25.8% higher from a year earlier.
While demand for homes is still high, fueled in part by the
stay-at-home culture of the coronavirus pandemic, supply
is incredibly low. That is hurting sales and affordability.
Canadian construction sector to rebound in 2021
The Canadian construction sector is set to rebound in 2021
after a pandemic-related dip in 2020, according to a recent
report from Vancouver-based real estate and infrastructure
advisory firm BTY Group.
Overall construction starts are projected to rebound from
C$60 billion in 2020 to C$80 billion in 2021, according to
BTY. The outlook is positive for all segments ¨C though
multifamily residential, industrial, and engineering and
roadwork will see the strongest upticks.
Infrastructure and renewables will be the top performing
sectors, driven by substantial government stimulus
spending and mega projects in BC, Quebec, and Ontario.
USTR hearing on Vietnam¡¯s import of timber
On 28 December the Office of the US Trade
Representative (USTR) held a virtual hearing for the
Section 301 investigation concerning Vietnam¡¯s import
and use of timber that may have been illegally harvested
The International Wood Products Association Executive
Director ,Cindy Squires, testified at the hearing that
Vietnam is important to the wood products trade both for
import and export and that damaging tariffs can be
avoided by better use of the US-Vietnam Trade and
Investment Framework Agreement.
¡°We believe this framework provides for a high-level
dialogue that can appropriately address both the subject of
this hearing as well as Vietnam¡¯s currency policies,¡±
She added that tariffs could lead to a number of
unintended consequences including retaliation by Vietnam
and a loss of influence as the EU continues its trade
process with Vietnam.
The Section 301 currency investigation, along with a
separate inquiry into Vietnam¡¯s alleged use of illegal
timber in furniture and other products will determine
whether the US government imposes tariffs on Vietnamese
goods shipped to the United States. The USTR is
expected to complete its timber and currency
investigations before 20 January.
Democratic Republic of the Congo Reinstated in AGOA
On 22 December 2020 President Trump issued a
proclamation reinstating the Democratic Republic of the
Congo¡¯s eligibility for trade preferences under the African
Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) effective1 January
Goods imported from the DRC to the US entered for
consumption, or withdrawn from warehouse for
consumption are now eligible to claim preferential tariff
treatment under AGOA. The goods must meet the 35%
value-added rule and all applicable AGOA requirements.
Brazil not dumping wood mouldings but shippers in
China face problems
On December 29, the Department of Commerce
announced its final antidumping duty (AD) and
countervailing duty (CVD) determinations on wood
mouldings and millwork products from Brazil and China.
Commerce found no dumping on wood mouldings and
millwork products from Brazil and, therefore, there will be
no AD order and duty deposit requirements for imports
New rates for China were outlined in decision memoranda
for China and the rates will go into effect when Commerce
publishes its AD/CVD final determinations in the Federal
Register, which usually takes between two and five
business days from the date of its final determinations.
A full list of companies with the applicable AD cash
deposit rates for wood mouldings and millwork products
from China is available in the draft Federal Register
Upon the issuance of Commerce's final determinations on
wood mouldings and millwork products, the International
Trade Commission (ITC) must make its final
determination on whether the domestic industry is injured
or threatened with injury by way of imported wood
mouldings and millwork products from Brazil and China.
If the ITC votes in the negative, no duties will be imposed,
and any duties that were previously collected will be
refunded. The ITC vote is currently scheduled for 22