In the first half year of 2014, Europe imports of softwood plywood were 899,000 cubic metres, 17% more than the same period the previous year. There was a 26% rise in imports from China to 97,400 cubic metres, and a 5% increase from Chile to 72,300 cubic metres.
A very large part of of the gain in plywood imports was due to improving market in the UK. However, imports also increased into Belgium, Italy, Denmark and the Netherlands in the first half of 2014. Imports into Germany and France have decreased this year.
A large proportion of softwood plywood imported into the EU each year arrives in the first quarter as importers rush to benefit from the annual duty free quota of 650,000 cubic metres. This year there was a particularly large increase in imports in January, but imports slowed dramatically in February and only recovered a little ground in the March to June period.
While consumption of softwood plywood has been good in the UK this year. European importers have been resistant to the higher prices asked by Brazilian exporters following rapid appreciation of the Real exchange against the Dollar in the first four months of this year. Brazilian exporters have also faced higher costs in material and energy. In previous years, Brazilian suppliers have lowered prices for softwood plywood in Europe by an amount equivalent to the 7% duty rate once the duty-free quota is used up. But this year they have had no incentive to reduce prices for European buyers because of robust demand in North America.
Plywood manufacturers in China have been benefiting for the deppreciation of Yuan for the first 5 months and the price of poplar plywood has been down a little but it gained back to normal price. China stays the second largest supplier on the UK plywood market.