Exports of US softwood lumber to the MENA region reached more than USD 27 million in 2014
Total exports of U.S. softwood lumber to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region reached a value of USD 27.445 million in 2014, according to American Softwoods (AMSO), the promotional partnership formed by three major U.S. softwood trade associations. The statistics, which have been compiled from the latest data released from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), reveal an overall increase in value of 26 percent over 2013. The top five markets for American softwoods in the region last year were Egypt (USD 8.268 million), Libya (USD 5.245 million), Algeria (USD 2.981 million), Jordan (USD 2.252 million), and the UAE (USD 1.845 million).
The most significant increases were seen in Algeria (up by 701 percent to USD 2.981 million), Bahrain (up by 476 percent to 1.115 million), Jordan (up by 276 percent to 2.252 million), and Morocco (up by 150 percent to 1.265 million). Double-digit growth was also seen in other markets such as Egypt (66 percent), Turkey (62 percent), Lebanon (76 percent) and Kuwait (36 percent) whilst a marginal downturn in shipments was seen in Libya, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. In terms of species, Southern Yellow Pine dominated exports with over 59 percent of all softwood lumber exports to the region. Confident that the MENA region shows even more potential for increased sales, AMSO has announced its participation at the ‘Talking Timber’ seminar and networking evening, which will be held in Dubai on April 13, 2015.
“The MENA region is growing in importance for producers of American softwoods and we have been pleased with how well the market has accepted our species and products. We would like to expand further particularly in the UAE and in other Gulf markets such as Saudi Arabia. In North Africa, Libya and Morocco are significant importers as well as Egypt,” said Charles Trevor, Consultant to American Softwoods. “Testament to the increasing stability and demand for American softwoods in the region, exports of U.S. softwood lumber to Iraq topped USD 902,000 in 2014 following years of almost no exports to the country.”
American softwoods have many uses in the MENA region, including concrete forming; structural uses including wood framing for residential and light commercial buildings up to five storeys high; outdoor uses such as walkways, bridges, cladding, decks, marinas, and playground equipment; and in joinery for windows and doors, furniture, cabinetry, flooring, moulding, paneling and staircases. Trevor is particularly positive on key drivers including the housing and construction boom in Dubai, which he believes will accelerate as Dubai Expo 2020 approaches.
“Looking ahead, we would like to interest and influence specifiers across the region and ensure that they have as much information as they need to design and build with American softwoods. Not only are American softwoods available in a wide range of grades and sizes, but they come from some of the most sustainably managed forests in the world, they are of excellent quality and are competitively priced. Our role is to help specifiers and other decision-makers to develop a greater understanding of wood as a viable, suitable and environmentally-friendly material for numerous applications, which should, in time, lead to greater use of this wonderful and sustainable resource,” concluded Trevor.