Select Page

The impact of pandemic control measures have hit West African timber producers across the region hard, coming as it has at a time when demand in the traditional markets, especially in Europe, were already under pressure from lower consumptions, changes to other materials and over production of some species.

The weakened EU economies resulted in declining wood product imports from all sources and exports from China to the main western markets have, naturally, dampened demand for the raw materials sourced from West Africa.

In Gabon it has been estimated that about 40% of the Chinese owned mills have stopped production. Mills in Gabon, Congo and Cameroon that are still operating have cut production by as much as 70% of pre-pandemic levels in some cases.

Producers are aware that when the consumer economies recover from the impact of the pandemic they will face the challenge of diversifying marketing, paying more attention to India, Middle East countries, Vietnam, the Philippines and new players in South America.

Calls for support for the timber sector

In a meeting with the Cameroon Minister of Forestry and Wildlife, Giorgio Giorgetti, the president of the local timber exporters’ Association Groupement de la filière bois du Cameroun (GFBC), proposed measures the Association believes could mitigate the devastating impact of the corona virus pandemic on the timber sector.

The Association suggested reducing Customs duties on processed wood products to below 6% from the current 10%. The Association also proposed a postponement of the deadline for payment of the second and third quarter annual forest tax for 2020.

Companies in Gabon had been promised financial assistance to ease the effect of the pandemic but operators are still waiting for the disbursements so they can continue to provide wages to workers who are either laid off or who work part-time.

Pandemic update

It has been close to three months since the first case of the coronavirus was confirmed in Africa. The WHO has shown infection curves in Africa are currently flatter than in Europe or the US. In contrast to what was predicted for Africa, the epidemic has not spread out of control and health systems have not been overwhelmed but there are challenges ahead.

In Cameroon, in a period of three months, the number of reported cases rose to more than 6,500 with more than 200 deaths. However, Professor Eugène Sobngwi, VicePresident of the Scientific Council in the Ministry of Health told a news gathering that the health system is coping at present.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is facing a double challenge, from the corona virus and from a recent Ebola outbreak. The WHO has said it is confident the Ebola outbreak in Equateur Province can be contained as treatments are now available.

Liberia has made good progress in containing the spread of corona virus and has signaled an intention to open its international airport in late June. The state of emergency eended on 9 June however, the night-time curfew remainsin place.

The number of infections in Ghana was over 11,000 in early June. The authorities have announced that borders will remain closed but that academic institutions are now allowed to reopen with strict health protocols. It has been reported that the Minister of Health, Kwaku-Agyemang Manu, has been infected.

As of 10 June Gabon’s corona virus infections stood at 3,375 with around a third being detected in the first two weeks of June. Compounding the challenge of holding down corona infection rates is the effort now needed to address a measles outbreak in the Bitam and Mayoumba districts.

Log Export Prices

West Africa logs, FOB € per m³
Asian market
LM
B
BC/C
Acajou/ Khaya/N’Gollon
265
265
175
Ayous/Obéché/Wawa
250
250
225
Azobe & Ekki
275
275
175
Belli
270
270
Bibolo/Dibétou
215
215
Bilinga
275
275
Iroko 300
280
225
Okoume (60% CI, 40% CE, 20% CS) (China only) 220 220 200
Moabi 365 365 285
Movingui 210
210
Niove
160
160
Okan
200
200
Padouk
250
230
200
Sapele 260 260 200
Sipo/Utile
260
260
230
Tali 300 300

 

Sawnwood Export Prices

West Africa sawnwood, FOB
€ per m³
Ayous FAS GMS 440
Bilinga FAS GMS 540
Okoumé FAS GMS
460
Merchantable 310
Std/Btr GMS 310
Sipo FAS GMS
500
FAS fixed sizes
FAS scantlings 520
Padouk FAS GMS 640
FAS scantlings 675
Strips 320
Sapele FAS Spanish sizes 450
FAS scantlings 480
Iroko FAS GMS 600
Scantlings 660
Strips
350
Khaya FAS GMS
480
FAS fixed
540
Maobi FAS GMS
620
Scantlings
640
Movingui FAS GMS
420

 

The post European demand for African tropical timber weakens appeared first on Timber Industry News.