Details of Germany’s tropical wood imports were shared by Rupert Oliver, trade analyst to the FLEGT Independent Market Monitor project (hosted by ITTO), to the GD Holz Foreign Trade Day on April 4.

Where Germany is importing tropical timbers, direct purchases from the tropics are falling rapidly and more is being purchased indirectly from importers elsewhere in the EU.

Germany’s imports of tropical sawnwood were around 73,000m3 in 2018, a slight improvement on the 67,000m3 imported the previous year, but well down on 103,000m3 imported in 2016 and around half the level prevailing a decade ago.

Germany imported 109,000m3 of veneers in 2018, down from 115,000m3 the previous year. Around 70% came from other EU countries and 34,000m3 from outside the EU. Veneer imports from outside the EU have fallen sharply, mainly due to a decline in imports from the US and Ivory Coast.

Tropical hardwood plywood has made gains in Germany in recent years, with total imports of tropical hardwood faced plywood rising from less than 100,000m3 a decade ago to peak at 153,000m3 in 2015. Imports fell back to 133,000m3 in 2016 but rebounded to 150,000m3 in 2017 and remained at that level last year.

Much of the recent gain in Germany’s tropical plywood imports comprises products either manufactured using tropical hardwoods in other EU countries, notably Italy and Spain, or imported indirectly via these countries. But an increase in direct imports of tropical hardwood plywood from Indonesia, from a low of 20,000m3 in 2013 to 31,000 m3 in 2018 is also being seen.

Germany’s imports of decking and moulding products from the tropics have edged downwards from 42,000m3 in 2015 to 40,000m3 last year. Imports from main supplying country Indonesia fell from 33,000m3 to 28,000m3.