Total exports of US hardwood logs, lumber and veneer to the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region, including Pakistan, reached $111.1 million in 2021, according to the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), the leading international trade association for the American hardwood industry.
The statistics, compiled from the latest data released from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), reveal a 35 per cent overall increase over 2020 figures and a return to levels seen before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
A closer look at the data reveals that shipments of American hardwood lumber (sawn timber) reached a value of $75.8 million and a volume of 92,388 cu m, marking an increase of 53 per cent and 35 per cent respectively over 2020. Meanwhile, direct shipments of US hardwood veneers to the Mena region during 2021 reached a total value of $21 million, falling by eight per cent over the previous year. However, American hardwood veneers are also shipped to the region from European countries and China, while veneers are also produced in the region – notably in Turkey – from imported American hardwood logs.
Turkey was the region's strongest performer last year, with exports of US hardwood lumber to the market rising by 70 per cent in volume to 16,344 cu m and by 80 per cent in value to $13.5 million, as compared to the previous year. At the same time, $5.4 million worth of hardwood veneers were shipped to Turkey from the US in addition to $9.2 million of American hardwood logs.
Among the other major destinations for American hardwoods in the Mena region, increases were also seen in exports to Egypt (up by 79 per cent in volume to 12,436 cu m), the UAE (up by nine per cent in volume to 12,762 cu m), Israel (up by 36 per cent in volume to 9,360 cu m), Saudi Arabia (up by 17 per cent in volume to 7,656 cu m) and Pakistan (up by 48 per cent in volume to 14,908 cu m).
This announcement came just after AHEC wrapped up its participation in the Dubai WoodShow 2022, which ran from March 15 to 17 at the Dubai International Exhibition and Convention Centre.
Confident of continued increased growth in demand for US hardwoods across the region, AHEC participated at the annual Dubai WoodShow again, after a two-year break due to the pandemic. During the three-day show, AHEC hosted an American Hardwood Pavilion with individual booths occupied by six US hardwood exporting companies along with the Hardwood States Export Group (HSEG) – a coalition of major eastern US hardwood exporting states – and the National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA).
The response to the show was overwhelmingly positive, says AHEC. The quantity and quality of visitors was far higher than in previous years and AHEC’s member companies were able to secure a significant number of new orders for US hardwoods from buyers all over the Middle East region and beyond.
Michael Snow, AHEC Executive Director, Roderick Wiles, AHEC Regional Director and Neil Summers, AHEC Technical Consultant were present at the show.
“Tactile, warm, unique, natural and sustainable are just some of the adjectives ascribed to American hardwoods by architects and designers in the Middle East,” says Wiles. “Whether it is for a one-off furniture piece or a large-scale interior fit out, hardwoods from the United States are increasingly being specified, as they become better known and more widely appreciated.”
“As a result, the US is the number one supplier of temperate hardwoods to the Middle East. Timber is certainly experiencing a global renaissance as a preferred material and as architects and designers seek out natural material alternatives across a variety of applications, we expect to see American hardwoods becoming increasingly widely-specified in the region,” Wiles adds.
At the Dubai Woodshow, AHEC officials were able to distribute hundreds of copies of its Guide to Sustainable American Hardwoods in both English and Arabic and to answer questions on technical and environmental issues, as well as sources of supply of US hardwoods (see also Techtalk, Page 60).