Central/West Africa: Asian demand is lively, Western markets quiet

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ITTO/Fordaq
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Central/West African producers report that all European markets are quiet and any purchases are only for replacement of stocks and tend to be for only the faster moving timbers. The weak demand in Europe has resulted in some price weakness for species which are most susceptible to even small shifts in demand.

Some of the larger European buyers are reportedly overstocked with sapele and padouk and are therefore holding off on imports. This is adding to the slight slackening in prices being offered by importers. Padouk prices are generally volatile and price movements tend to be wider than for most other timbers. Demand for okan has fallen once again mainly because buyers in Netherlands have switched to buying azobe.

On the brighter side, Asian markets are reported as busy, though India importers are on the side-lines at present and, like importers in Europe, are not interested in padouk. Importers in China are said to be actively buying which has lifted the price for okoume, especially peeler logs for face veneer. Chinese mills generally use cheaper species for plywood core veneers and okoume for face and back veneers.

In both China and India there is continued interest in larger sized sawn flitches for sliced veneers and for flooring and this has helped slow the slide in FOB prices for padouk and okan in spite of the poor demand in Europe.

Bubunga issue becomes more complicated

The issue of exports of kevazingo/bubinga, which is now subject to CITES regulation, continues. It has been reported that the governments in Gabon and Congo Brazzaville have not yet ratified the latest CITES decisions and controversy continues on shipments of old stocks of sawn kevazingo.

There are reports that the government in Gabon has shifted it stance on the export of kevazingo sawnwood produced before the CITES rules were changed. Previously the government said stocks could be exported but now it seems this will not be allowed.

Market size works against downstream production

The Gabon government continues to press timber companies to invest in added value processing such as furniture.

However, local timber companies point out that the domestic market is too small to support large scale furniture manufacturing and the high taxes levied on exports even to neighbouring EMAC countries (Economic Community of Central African States) discourages investment in downstream processing.

The recently appointed Minister of Forestry in Congo Brazzaville is also seeking to push companies into downstream and furniture manufacture, but here again it is a question if market size and high taxes and costly long distance transportation to potential markets.

Log Export Prices

West Africa logs, FOB € per m³
Asian market
LM
B
BC/C
Acajou/ Khaya/N’Gollon
240
240
160
Ayous/Obéché/Wawa
240
240
190
Azobe & Ekki
230
230
160
Belli
240
235
Bibolo/Dibétou
180
170
 
Bilinga
220
220
-
Iroko 325
300
265
Okoume (60% CI, 40% CE, 20% CS) (China only) 210 190 160
Moabi 330 300 235
Movingui 210
210
160
Niove
175
160
Okan
210
190
Padouk
300
280
230
Sapele 290 280 220
Sipo/Utile
310
290
255
Tali 330 320

 

Sawnwood Export Prices

West Africa sawnwood, FOB
€ per m³
Ayous FAS GMS 400
Bilinga FAS GMS 515
Okoumé FAS GMS
340
Merchantable 280
Std/Btr GMS 266
Sipo FAS GMS
550
FAS fixed sizes 560
FAS scantlings 560
Padouk FAS GMS 820
FAS scantlings 920
Strips 640
Sapele FAS Spanish sizes 500
FAS scantlings 520
Iroko FAS GMS 620
Scantlings 710
Strips
440
Khaya FAS GMS
450
FAS fixed
460
Maobi FAS GMS
610
Scantlings
630
Movingui FAS GMS
420

 

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