African mills feel the effects of reduced Chinese demand

16 December 2022

African sawmill and plywood facility operators are encountering significant difficulties due to reduction in demand from the Chinese market, according to the latest bulletin from the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO).

Mills in Gabon and Congo which concentrate on okoume have reportedly made layoffs and curtailments, while their stocks are rising due to the reduced demand. Total stock of okoume held in the Gabon Special Economic Zone is estimated at around 300,000m3.

Mills are searching for new markets and for different timber species to those that the Chinese market demands.

The ITTO bulletin says sales of azobe and bilinga have achieved success to some European countries, while further efforts are focusing on padouk and doussie.

Meanwhile, higher fuel costs are also making life difficult for the timber sector in West and Central Africa.

Reports from Congo suggest the only market remaining active for okoume is the Philippines.