Jun 18, 2012. /Lesprom Network/. The European sawmilling industries are going through difficult times. The revival of the wood markets that started in 2010 did not continue fully in 2011 and the situation in the first half of 2012 does not give rise to unlimited optimism either, as the the European Organisation of the Sawmill Industry aisbl (EOS) said in a press release received by Lesprom Network.
This is the main message from the discussions on the sawn timber markets as held in the context of the EOS general assembly in Riga on 15 June 2012, hosted by the Latvian Timber Producers’ & Traders’ Association.
EOS Chairman Alfred Jechart commented that, “After good starts in 2011 in most countries, market conditions started deteriorating and have, apart from some exceptions, not really improved in the first half of 2012.”
There are several explanations for this situation. Adding to the effects of the general economic and financial crisis and the low level of construction activity, coupled with low consumer confidence, sawmilling companies strongly suffer from low wood availability and high raw material costs. For the hardwood sawmilling sector, hardwood log exports to Asia pose an additional concern. This put a strong pressure on the profitability of the companies, which really struggle to write black figures and to keep the right balance.
The EOS members are, however, convinced that, over time, the sector will be able to overcome the current situation and become much stronger as a sector. The industry’s basic raw material – wood, coupled with innovative production techniques, allows the production of highly efficient products for e.g. energy efficient buildings and construction in general. As such, the use of wood is part of the solution by becoming a cornerstone of the EU policy to reducing greenhouse gas emissions strongly towards 2050.
The EOS chairman reminded the members that they will need to take control over their own future and step up their co-operation within EOS to be able to continue voicing their opinion on the EU political parquet, safeguarding and promoting common interests.
During the General Assembly, Latvian Member of Parliament, Edvards Smiltens, reported on the status of the Latvian forest and woodworking sector. He highlighted that the wood industry was ranked number 1 in a recent poll on the popularity of industrial sectors and the strong improvements made over the past decades.
Jan Söderlind presented proposals for a joint European wood promotion campaign to be initiated between EOS and the European Timber Trade Federation, ETTF. The EOS members gave green light to the development of a detailed action plan. This will be evaluated in September with the aim of launching the campaign officially in the context of the International Softwood Conference in Stockholm on 19 October 2013.
The EOS members furthermore approved an EOS policy paper focusing on the difficulties created by log exports from EU countries to China in particular. These cause major problems from the hardwood sawmilling sector at the moment. With the paper, the sector aims as raising further awareness among European and national policy makers and incite them to take action in defence of the sector.
The European Organisation of the Sawmill Industry aisbl (EOS) is an international non-profit organisation that represents the interests of the sawmill industries on European and international level. EOS currently gathers the national sawmilling associations of thirteen European countries.