Central/West Africa: Tight supply underpins log prices

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In contrast to the slight fluctuations in sawnwood prices log prices have hardly been affected in the first months of the year. While demand is soft in the Chinese market producers say buyers are not pressuring for price reductions in the realisation that availability is an issue.

Forest authorities through-out West and Central African countries have strengthened control of harvest levels and this, along with news of the tight log supply situation in SE Asia, is serving to support log prices. Middle East markets continue to be very price conscious and constantly looking for an opportunity to buy at the best price for their domestic market which remains healthy.

Sawnwood export snapshot

Cameroon is the major supplier of sawn West African hardwoods to the EU but between 2011 and 2014 has seen its market share drop by around 18%; Ghana too has seen sales to the EU decline over the same period.

In contrast some other West African producer countries, notably Gabon, Côte d'Ivoire and Republic of Congo have achieved a growth in sawnwood sales to Europe.

Sipo makes a come-back

While sipo sawnwood prices are still soft due to poor demand, the fortunes of sapele have improved on the back of a modest improvement in interest from buyers. However, interest in the other red timbers has collapsed for now so producers are cutting back on milling of the redwoods to avoid a build-up of stocks.

Buyers for the Chinese market are reported to have returned with steady purchases but of uninspiring volumes since the landed stocks in China are still above what the market can absorb.

The Chinese economy is set to grow at a slower pace than over the past few years so it will take time for a new baseline to be established for volumes required in the housing and construction markets in the country.

In response to the recent abrupt slowing in the economy analysts anticipate a wave of stimulus measures from the Chinese government which likely herald a period of volatility for West African exporters.

Satisfying’ due diligence’ requirements

As countries in West and Central Africa negotiate VPAs with the EU trade is conducted based on meeting the „due diligence‟ requirements of the EUTR. Producers are now becoming more confident that they can satisfy the documentary requirements of importers in the EU.

The annual FLEGT Week was held last month and around 300 stakeholders representing EU member states, civil society, private sector, NGOs and experts met in Brussels to discuss progress on key topics such as forest governance, private sector engagement, drivers of deforestation and tracking timber legality. Participants contributed to setting new targets for the coming years, including the creation of synergies between FLEGT and other initiatives, and encouraging the private sector to participate in the debate on the legal and sustainable timber trade.

Log Export Prices

West Africa logs, FOB € per m³
Asian market
LM
B
BC/C
Acajou/ Khaya/N'Gollon
230
230
160
Ayous/Obéché/Wawa
260
260
180
Azobe & Ekki
230
230
160
Belli
330
330
-
Bibolo/Dibétou
150
145
 
Iroko 330
290
260
Okoume (60% CI, 40% CE, 20% CS) (China only) 240
240
160
Moabi 335 305 225
Movingui 210
210
160
Niove
160
160
-
Okan
250
250
-
Padouk
300
275
210
Sapele 360 360 270
Sipo/Utile
380
380
255
Tali 320 320
-

                                                                                                                                               

Sawnwood Export Prices

West Africa sawnwood, FOB
€ per m³
Ayous FAS GMS 400
Bilinga FAS GMS 500
Okoumé FAS GMS
400
Merchantable 225
Std/Btr GMS 300
Sipo FAS GMS
610
FAS fixed sizes 610
FAS scantlings 660
Padouk FAS GMS 860
FAS scantlings 920
Strips 500
Sapele FAS Spanish sizes 600
FAS scantlings 600
Iroko FAS GMS 610
Scantlings 645
Strips
440
Khaya FAS GMS
450
FAS fixed
470
Maobi FAS GMS
610
Scantlings
615
Movingui FAS GMS
420
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