The Netherlands had a less strict lockdown than some of its neighbours and began its five-phase plan to ease restrictions further on 11 May. However, the effects even of this more limited lockdown on the timber sector and wider economy have been profound.
A report on the ATIBT in April stated that Netherlands importers had sufficient stocks for the short term and ports and road transport had been designated key sectors and continued to operate.
However, the Netherlands Timber Trade Association (NTTA) said the pandemic was disrupting timber supplies to the Netherlands from the rest of Europe and Malaysia and, while imports from Africa were ‘reasonably normal’, they were also expected to decrease. Plywood and other panel products were in also increasingly in short supply.
NTTA reported the DIY sector continuing to trade well. Overall timber trade sales, however, are expected to be well down through the summer.
The virus outbreak has not impacted ongoing construction projects in the Netherlands as activity has continued subject to health and safety restrictions. However, the worsening economic outlook is expected to weigh down on construction industry output growth. The number of construction projects is decreasing, with the NTTA mentioning forecasts of a 50% fall in new home building.
At the same time, activity in the renovation sector has reduced by 80%.
According to a business confidence index published by Statistics Netherlands in early May, the confidence of entrepreneurs in the Dutch wood and building materials industry has declined sharply: the balance fell from +1.5 in March to -25.2 in April 2020, by far the largest decrease ever recorded.
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