Demand for West African timber dwindles

By | 2020-07-17T13:11:13+00:00 July 17th, 2020|

According to an article first published by Global Wood Markets Info, the impact of Covid-19 control measures has hit West African timber producers across the region hard.

Companies in Gabon had been promised financial assistance to ease the effect of the pandemic. Image credit: Global Wood Markets

Companies in Gabon had been promised financial assistance to ease the effect of the pandemic. Image credit: Global Wood Markets

The pandemic happened at a time when demand in the traditional markets, especially in Europe, were already under pressure from lower consumptions, changes to other materials and overproduction of some species.

The report states that the weakened EU economies resulted in declining wood product imports from all sources. Exports from China and the main western markets have, naturally, dampened demand for the raw materials sourced from West Africa.

In Gabon, about 40% of the Chinese-owned mills have stopped production. Mills in Gabon, Congo and Cameroon that are still operating have cut production by as much as 70% of pre-pandemic levels in some cases. Producers are aware that when the consumer economies recover from the impact of the coronavirus they will face the challenge of diversifying marketing, paying more attention to India, Middle East countries, Vietnam, the Philippines and new players in South America.

Calls for support for the timber sector In a meeting with the Cameroon Minister of Forestry and Wildlife, Giorgio Giorgetti, the president of the local timber exporters’ Association Groupement de la filière bois du Cameroun (GFBC), proposed measures the Association believes could mitigate the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the timber sector.

The Association suggested reducing Customs duties on processed wood products to below 6% from the current 10%. The Association also proposed a postponement of the deadline for payment of the second and third quarter annual forest tax for 2020.

Companies in Gabon had been promised financial assistance to ease the effect of the pandemic but operators are still waiting for the disbursements so they can continue to provide wages to workers who are either laid off or who work part-time.

This article was first published on the Global Wood Market Info website.