Total exports of U.S. hardwood lumber and veneer to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region including Pakistan reached USD 96.74 million for the year 2017. The statistics, which have been compiled from the latest data released from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), reveal a 7 percent overall increase over 2016 figures.
According to the data released, exports of American hardwood lumber reached a value of USD 75.46 million and a volume of 92,273 cubic meters, marking an increase of 20 percent and 17 percent respectively over 2016. A closer look at the numbers also revealed that direct shipments of U.S. hardwood veneers to the MENA region during 2017 reached a total value of USD 21.13 million, falling by 23 percent over the previous year. However, American hardwood veneers are also shipped to the region from European countries and China, while veneers are also produced in the region – notably in Turkey – from imported American hardwood logs.
The UAE was the region’s strongest performer last year, with exports of U.S. hardwood lumber to the market rising by 86 percent in both volume and value to 24,597 cubic meters and USD 21.05 million, as compared to the previous year. This means that over a quarter of all U.S. hardwood lumber shipped to the MENA region was destined for the UAE last year.
However, a large percentage of what goes to the UAE is for re-export to neighboring Gulf markets, as well as to markets further afield. Nonetheless, a very buoyant construction sector in the UAE ahead of Dubai’s World Expo 2020, is expected to keep demand for American hardwoods at a high level through this year and beyond.
Among the other major destinations for American hardwoods in the MENA region, increases were also seen in exports to Saudi Arabia (up by 10 percent in volume to 6,539 cubic meters), and Jordan (up by 12 percent in volume to 4,395 cubic meters). One MENA market that showed remarkable growth in demand for U.S. hardwood lumber last year was Lebanon, to which exports grew by 70 percent in volume and 61 percent in value as compared to 2016. In addition, American hardwood veneer exports to Lebanon also increased by 27 percent to reach a value of USD 3.317 million in 2017. At the same time, exports of U.S. hardwood lumber to the region’s two other major markets – Pakistan and Turkey – remained almost unchanged from the previous year.
Positive of increased growth across the region, AHEC is participating at the annual ‘Dubai WoodShow’. During the three-day show, AHEC is hosting a pavilion with individual booths occupied by fourteen U.S. hardwood exporting companies along with the Hardwood States Export Group (HSEG) – a coalition of major eastern U.S. hardwood exporting states. Confirmed exhibitors include MacDonald & Owen Lumber Company; Hartzell Hardwoods, Inc.; Atlantic Veneer Corporation; Baillie Lumber Co., Inc.; Midwest Hardwood Corporation; Hermitage Hardwood Lumber Sales; Oaks Unlimited, Inc.; American Lumber; Nina Company; Wood’n Slabs; Northland Corporation; Missouri Walnut LLC; Thompson Hardwoods, Inc.; and Wheeland Lumber Company.
“Tactile, warm, unique, natural and sustainable are just some of the adjectives ascribed to American hardwoods by architects and designers in the Middle East. Whether it is for a one-off furniture piece or a large-scale interior fit out, hardwoods from the United States are increasingly being specified, as they become better known and more widely appreciated. As a result, the United States is the number one supplier of temperate hardwoods to the Middle East. Timber is certainly experiencing a global renaissance as a preferred material and as architects and designers seek out natural material alternatives across a variety of applications, we expect to see American hardwoods becoming increasingly widely-specified in the region,” concluded Roderick Wiles, AHEC Regional Director.