The European Commission’s (EC) decision to further increase duties on imports of okoumé-faced poplar plywood will leave UK importers largely unaffected because they have already switched to alternative products.

However, a customs crackdown on Chinese plywood imports with the intention of finding okoumé-faced products is holding up some shipments of the alternative bintangor-faced plywood.

The EC’s decision to impose provisional anti-dumping duties of 48.5% on the okoumé product sparked anger earlier this year, with the Timber Trade Federation (TTF) branding it “punitive” and “unfair”. The latest move increases the rate to a definitive 66.7%, with lower duties for four individual Chinese producers.

TTF product manager Nick Bolton said there was now an equal or greater level of alternative-faced Chinese plywood shipments to the UK compared with the amount of okoumé imports before the duties.

Chris Williams, managing director of Panda Panels Agencies Ltd, said probably every importer bringing in plywood from China was now sourcing bintangor-faced products.

But he said Customs’ recent policy of inspecting every container imported from China and testing samples in the search for okoumé could hold up deliveries by as much as a week, as well as causing extra costs.