It has been reported that buyers for the Chinese and other Asian markets are slowly returning. The current emphasis is on a few species such as ovangkol, okan and belli. There is a steady but low demand for okoume, iroko, sapelli movingui, dabeme and padauk.
Buyers for the Chinese market are looking for okoume, ovangkol, belli and sapelli, reportedly for the furniture sector. Producers say, despite the buyer interest, prices are stable which is seen as a good sign in these tough trading conditions.
Buyers in the Philippines concentrate on okoume and for this market there has been some welcome interest. Tali is the favourite of Vietnam but recently there has been interest in padauk,belli and dabema.
The South African market has not yet shown signs of recovery as the pandemic is taking its toll on manufacturing output in the country. The South African market for finger jointed okoume has weakened. The interest of South African importers in door fabrication in Gabon appears to be still alive and negotiations are ongoing.
Purchases for the Middle East markets are slow, say producers and demand is well below pre-pandemic levels.
This market is very price conscious and there are reports that low priced timbers from Russia are gaining market share.
There is a good market for okoume and sapelli sawnwood in Egypt but the payment process for imports into the country is said to be complicated with all transactions having to secure Central Bank approval which causes delays.
Prices edging up for EU market
Europe has started its holiday season which has dampened demand even further, however, there are reports that some prices have started to move in the right direction for timbers such as movingui and acajou, not big sellers at the best of times. A common comment from producers across the region is that payments from buyers are now slower than previously and 60 days is now becoming the norm.
Export volumes down as even as recovery plans developed
Timber exports from Cameroon have fallen sharply by as much as 45% and reports indicate some 60% of sawmills in the country have stopped operations.
The government is preparing a package of support for industries in the country but support will only be provided once companies can show their licenses and arrangements with the government are in order.
The industry is looking forward to the government assistance so they can begin the process of rehiring workers.
Even if mills wish to resume operations they will face logs shortages, especially for timbers that are now in demand as markets are beginning to revive.
There are reports of a large volume of, mainly secondary, peeler logs for the Chinese market held up in the port and they are deteriorating fast.
Timber exports from the Congo have also fallen, the result of the combined impact of the pandemic and tough implementation of the export quota system. Control on exports is very tight in the Port of Pointe Noire. There are reports of several Chinese mills ceasing operations.
Most mills cut okoume for the Chinese and other Asian markets. There are reports of some timber shippers taking advantage of deals offered by conventional vessels looking for return cargos after delivering cement.
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