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Recovery of forest products markets in the UNECE region

Published: 09 September 2003

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) just released the draft of the UNECE/FAO Forest Products Annual Market Analysis, 2002-2004. It covers forest products market and policy developments in the UNECE region of Europe, North America and the CIS countries. Its main findings are:

  • Forest law enforcement, governance and trade policies are being developed as countries build partnerships to control illegal logging and the trade of forest products sourced from illegal harvesting.

  • Markets for forest products in the UNECE region turned upwards in 2002, overcoming the dip in 2001, achieving some record levels.

  • Certified forest area worldwide extended to over 150 million hectares by mid-2003, 90% of which are in the UNECE region, however, not all potentially labelled certified forest products reach final consumers.

  • Total roundwood consumption for the UNECE region was 1.3 billion m3, well within sustainable harvest limits.

  • Structural oversupply has arisen for some products and subregions, and with strong global competition, this has increased pressure on the economic viability of forest management in some countries.

  • Forest products markets remained weak in western Europe, with the exception of sawn softwood, which bounced back from a drop in 2001 to reach record production and exports levels.

  • Strong housing construction in the United States drove demand for sawn softwood and structural panels, with an increasing amount being imported.

  • Increased market share of imported forest products led the United States to continue quotas and tariffs on Canadian sawnwood imports in 2002 through mid-2003.

  • Markets in the Central and Eastern European countries and the Balkans exhibited strong, continuing recovery in 2002, and for some products, pre-transition levels were attained.

  • Consumption of wood energy in the EU/EFTA rose to a record level in 2002, leading panel and pulp manufacturers to express concern about competition for their raw material.

  • CIS exports of roundwood and sawnwood expanded to record levels, but domestic consumption remained soft.

  • Sawn softwood consumption, production and trade rose to record levels in the UNECE region in 2002, but sawn hardwood demand peaked in 1999 and has since been falling.

The Annual Market Analysis begins with an overview, followed by a chapter on the policy implications of forest products market developments. These are followed by analyses of the economic factors affecting the forest and forest industries sector. Statistics-based chapters are included for markets of sawn softwood, sawn hardwood, wood-based panels, paper, paperboard and woodpulp, wood raw materials and tropical timber. Other chapters highlight the rapid developments in forest products certification, as well as value-added wood products, e.g. furniture.

The market effects of wood energy policies is the theme of the annual Timber Committee Market Discussions on 7-8 October 2003 in Geneva.

Copies of the Annual Market Analysis or its Executive Summary may be obtained from the web site homepage or postal address below. For further information please contact:

Mr. Christopher Prins

Chief, UNECE/FAO Timber Section
Trade Development and Timber Division
United Nations Economic Commission for Europe
Palais des Nations
CH - 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Phone: +41 (0)22 917 2872
Fax: +41 (0)22 917 0041
E-mail: info.timber@unece.org
Web site: http://www.unece.org/trade/timber

Ref: ECE/TIM/03/P01

United Nations Economic Commission for Europe

Information Unit

Palais des Nations, 

CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Tel.: +41 (0) 22 917 44 44

Fax: +41 (0) 22 917 05 05