Regional News

Wiles ... tremendous potential.

Wiles ... tremendous potential.

Saudi Arabia key market for American hardwood

October 2011

SAUDI ARABIA has maintained its position as one of the top destinations within the Middle East and North African (Mena) market for American hardwood lumber with more than $5.265 million worth of imports having entered the country during the first half of 2011, according to the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), the leading international trade association for the American hardwood industry.

The value of American hardwood lumber shipped to the Mena region from January to June 2011 increased by 1.3 per cent over the same six months of last year and reached a total of $24.35 million. In addition, the first two quarters have seen exports of US hardwood veneers to the Mena region increase by 15 per cent to $10.66 million, while exports of flooring increased by five per cent to $603,217 and logs by four per cent to $14.25 million.

Across the region, the leading destinations for American hardwood lumber during the first half of 2011 were the UAE ($5.39 million), Saudi Arabia ($5.265 million) and Egypt ($3.828 million). Import figures from other markets include Lebanon ($1.34 million), Jordan ($1.2 million), Qatar ($600,176), Kuwait ($522,966), Bahrain ($161,000) and Oman ($93,000).

According to the most recent reports from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a total of more than $3.013 million worth of American red oak was imported into Saudi Arabia from January to June of 2011, making up a large part of the American hardwood lumber entering the country and further affirming its position as a major user of this important commercial species. This translates into more than 4,611 cu m of American red oak, which represents a 63 per cent increase in value and a 71 per cent increase in quantity as compared to the same period in 2010. Imports of other temperate hardwood species reached $314,140 or around 482 cu m, reflecting a 183 per cent increase in value and a 152 per cent increase in quantity.

Meanwhile, imports of American walnut for January to June of 2011 figured at $239,197 or 118 cu m, which represents a 321 per cent increase in value and a 307 per cent increase in volume over the same period in 2010.

“Saudi Arabia has consolidated its position as a leading market for American hardwoods and red oak in particular, which is widely preferred for its look, durability and strong physical properties, making it the perfect material for interior applications and furniture,” said Roderick Wiles, AHEC director for Africa, Middle East, India and Oceania.

“The kingdom’s commitment of over $37 billion for the construction of schools and universities and $35 billion for the development of hospitals and other healthcare facilities in the next decade represents tremendous potential for American hardwoods in this market. The American hardwood industry is confident that this will lead to even greater demand for US hardwoods in the coming months and years.”

In spite of the unsettled political and economic climate in some parts of the Middle East and North Africa, the construction and interiors sectors in the region – especially Saudi Arabia – have recovered well from any effects of the global financial crisis and demand for wood products has picked up considerably, he says.

“The increase in imports of American hardwoods into the Middle East region demonstrates the positive response to our initiatives to increase awareness of the immense potential of American hardwoods. This has further encouraged us to continue with our efforts in reaching out to our target audience of architects, contractors, consultants, interior designers and craftsmen and make them more aware of the range of choice, the qualities of American hardwood and their sustainability when used across the growing number of construction and interior design projects in the Middle East,” concluded Wiles.

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