Value of UK tropical wood product imports up 34%

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The import value of tropical wood and wood furniture into the UK in the opening five months of this year was US$711 million, 34% more than the same period last year.

This was by far the strongest start to a year in terms of UK import value of tropical wood and wood furniture products since the 2008 financial crises. It compares to an average import value of less than US$500 million for the January to May period throughout the whole decade prior to the onset of the pandemic in 2020.

The rise in UK import quantity of tropical wood and wood furniture was much less dramatic than the rise in import value in the first five months of this year, at 228,000 tonnes just 10% more than the same period in 2021. This shows that price inflation was the major factor behind the rise in import value.

Significant weakening of the value of the GBP on foreign exchange markets since the end of April, combined with the wider geo-political situation, implies that price inflation will remain a key issue for UK importers in the months of ahead. It also indicates that the current boom in UK imports may well be short-lived.

Availability of hardwood and furniture products from the UK's traditionally largest suppliers in Europe has become even more challenging since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in the last week of February, encouraging UK importers to look more to tropical products. COVID lockdowns have also seriously disrupted availability of manufactured wood products from China.

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