“Valued at $1.3 trillion, the outlook for the GCC’s construction sector remains positive and we expect sustained demand for American hardwoods, mainly for interior joinery, flooring and furniture, as projects near their completion dates,” said Roderick Wiles, a Director at AHEC.
With massive building and infrastructure spending driving the GCC’s construction boom, the total value of construction contracts awarded this year is expected to soar to $195.7bn, up from $159.87bn in 2013.
Hardwood lumber imports total reached a value of $56.3mn and a volume of about 72,000m³ during the first 3 quarters of 2014, according to the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) according to statistics compiled from the latest data released from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). These reveal an increase in value of 19.5% over the January to September period of 2013 and an increase in volume of 6.4%. In addition, direct exports of US hardwood veneers to the MENA reached a total value of $22.5mn during the January to September period of this year, rising by 20% from the same period in 2013.
The most significant increases in shipments of US hardwood lumber were seen in Qatar (up by 81%to 2,900m³), Lebanon (up by 41% to 3,858m³), the United Arab Emirates (up by 26% to 9,820m³) and Jordan (up by 20% to 4,784m³). In addition, exports of American hardwood logs to the MENA region during the first three quarters of this year reached a volume of 28,232m³ but at the same time, a marginal downturn in shipments was noticed in Saudi Arabia, Oman and Morocco.
In US hardwood veneers, the main destination in the MENA region during the nine-month period was Egypt, which took $8.75mn worth,marking a rise of 23% from the same period in 2013.
In terms of species, 32% of the volume of US hardwood lumber shipped to the MENA region during the January to September period of this year was Red Oak (23,356m³). However, this share of the total is much less than it has been in previous years and this is because higher volumes of Ash, White Oak, Walnut and Tulipwood are being shipped to the region today in response to global trends. Increased exports of White Oak (11,422m³), Walnut (4,370m³) and Hard Maple (5,149m³) to the region demonstrate a consistent demand for American hardwoods across a variety of species.