Agricultural Minister Nguyen Xuan Cuong emphasized that with an export turnover of US$11.3 billion in 2019, an increase of 18 percent compared to that in 2018, forest products have become one of three product lines with annual export turnover over $10 billion, at a meeting with the Vietnam Timber and Forest Product Association and wood associations of Ho Chi Minh City, Binh Duong, Dong Nai and Binh Dinh provinces on January 9 in Long An Province, reported by SAIGON ONLINE.

Agricultural and forest products have accounted for a higher and higher proportion in the structure of export products, growing at a two-digit number for the last 20 years and the market space is still large as total wood trading of the world is at $300 billion per year.

The forestry industry targets to hit an export turnover of $20 billion by 2025. To achieve its target, it is necessary to complete institutions and policies, build the value chains of the product line and obtain market opportunities and new technology. The most important thing is to train and meet the demand for human resources in engineering, administration and designing to improve the value-added of products.

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According to theconstructionindex, excess stock brought in ahead of the original 1st April 2019 Brexit deadline, continuing uncertainty around Brexit and challenges posed by bark beetle attacks throughout central Europe all contributed to timber prices falling last year, says Nigel Buckley-Ryan, UK sales director of Södra Wood Ltd.

But there is now a risk of timber shortages and supply delays and so 2020 is likely to see prices going up again, he says.

Thanks to pre-Brexit stockpiling, the UK market was saturated in 2019, Mr Buckley-Ryan says. “This, coupled ongoing challenges posed by bark beetle attacks (and the need to fell and process affected wood as quickly as possible), led to over-supply and price reductions.”

This year, things will be tougher for buyers.

“The persistence of the bark beetle means that the yield of logs being harvested has fallen due to a deterioration of quality,” he says. “The market will likely feel the effect of this soon, particularly the market for C24 construction timber, which could be impacted by a tighter supply scenario.”

Bark beetle is a common and potentially devastating pest that tunnels under bark, cutting off the supply of food and water the tree needs to survive, eventually killing a tree in as little as two to four weeks. Bark beetle attacks on spruce throughout central Europe proliferated during summer 2019, with the situation becoming serious in several places in the Czech Republic, Austria and Germany. Damaged logs need to be harvested as soon as possible, which can have a knock-on effect on production.

“There’s no doubt that the timber industry is going through a challenging time at the moment,” Mr Buckley-Ryan says.

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According to FORDAQ, in 2019, the worldwide sales of the EPLF members was 447 million m² of laminate flooring from European production (2018: 454 million m², i.e. -1.5 percent). The second half of 2019 has witnessed an upturn recovering and is stabilising at a high level, even though the influence of declining world trade remains noticeable globally.

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According to project-syndicate.org, Gabon’s Forest Minister Lee White is organising a team to assess the legality of all the country’s concessions suspecting many administrative errors having occurred in the past.

In an article in Project Syndicate in October co-authored with National Climate Council chair Tanguy Gahouma, Minister White also reported that, in the next 12 months, the government will work with concession managers to make improvements to harvesting practices. The government will then conduct a follow-up study to measure the effect of the changes.

Under a recent ten-year agreement, Norway will pay Gabon a floor price of US$10 per certified tonne of carbon for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions caused by deforestation and degradation, as well as for absorption of CO2 by natural forests.

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Reports of illegal logging made through the ISO 9001- 2015 certified Standard External Independent Observation System (SNOIE) helped the Cameroonian Ministry of Forests and Wildlife generate a surplus of XAF 72.5 million of forest revenues in the period 2016–2019, according to a report in Business in Cameroon.

The funds were generated by fines imposed on illegal forest operators and through the proceeds of public auctions of confiscated timber. 

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According to a report in Foreign Policy, the China–US trade dispute continues to have negative impacts on African timber exports. US importers are hesitant to ship inventory due to uncertainty over the levels and timing of tariffs affecting cargoes already enroute.

In separate news, the US government notified the US Congress on 31 October that Cameroon would lose its eligibility status under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) in 2020 because of a failure “to address concerns regarding persistent human rights violations being committed by Cameroonian security forces.” 

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According to Lesprom, PEFC welcomed its 52nd and 53rd national members. The General Assembly, its highest decision making body, voted Ukraine and Guyana into the alliance.

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According to ITTO, EU imports of flooring products from tropical countries fell a further 4% to 19,700 MT in the first nine months of 2018, continuing a long term decline in response to tough competition from European and Chinese manufacturers and non-wood alternatives, fashion trends favouring temperate timbers, supply constraints, and challenges of EUTR conformance. The value of EU imports of wood flooring was more stable, at €45.7 million in the nine month period, only slightly less than €45.8 million in the same period last year.

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According to FOADAQ, 7% rise in EU imports of tropical sawnwood EU imports of tropical sawn wood increased 7% to 582,500 MT in the first nine months of 2019 compared to the same period in 2018. Import value increased 3% to €557.9 million.

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According to AJOT, sawmill profit margins have fallen substantially in North America over the past 12 months with BC sawmills margins in the 2Q/19 being close to their lowest levels in 15 years, reports the Wood Resource Quarterly.

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