West African tropical wood exports driven down by pandemic

The rapid spread of the coronavirus has adversely affected West Africa’s export markets, imports, foreign investment, tourism and remittances. Furthermore, the disruption in commodity markets, travel and tourism and country-level lockdowns have slowed economic activity.

The impact of pandemic control measures has hit West African timber producers across the region, coming at a time when demand in the traditional markets, especially in Europe, were already under pressure from lower consumption.

EU imports of tropical sawnwood declined sharply from West Africa in the first four months of 2020; down 22% from Cameroon to 84,500 cu.m, 28% from Gabon to 34,500 cu.m, 19% from Congo to 15,700 cu.m, 37% from Côte d’Ivoire to 7,600 cu.m, 16% from Ghana to 6,100 cu.m and 46% from DRC to 1,900 cu.m.

US imports from Cameroon in the first 5 months of this year were down 33%, Ghana down 6% but imports from Ivory Coast were up slightly. Imports of sapelli fell 18%, African mahogany fell 51% and padauk was down over 70%. China’s imports of both logs and sawnwood also dipped in the first quarter of the year.

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