The International Softwood Conference in October was held in Hamburg this year with 150 participants from all over the World. It was hosted by the GD Holz/German Timber Trade Federation, and, as usual, by the European Organization of the Sawmill Industries (EOS) and the European Timber Trade Federation (ETTF).
The development of production and consumption suggests that the moderate growth which was observed in 2017 is expected to continue into 2018. In Europe the situation can be described as positive with most markets on the rise. Mr Andreas von Möller, President of ETTF, provided a comprehensive overview of the construction activity in Europe, showing that the confidence index is going up and the production index has reached the highest levels since 2010. The European markets are solid and reliable: Mr Sampsa Auvinen, President of EOS, underlined in his presentation that the European demand is expected to continue to increase. A buoyant construction activity, along with a growing awareness of the benefits of using wood in construction, is indeed pushing up European demand to the highest levels of this decade.
However, a possible source of instability is the British market. The uncertainty around Brexit could take its toll on the British economy, which could result in decreasing import volumes. But stakeholders emphasized that the high demand of other regions would be able to make up for a possible drop of exports to the UK.
In sum, the moderate economic growth which is taking place in Europe is expected to continue into 2018 and will have a positive impact on the timber market in the EU. Dynamic export markets are also a cause for optimism. However, the industry needs to remain vigilant in a competitive landscape characterized by growing complexity.
The next edition of the International Softwood conference will take place in Latvia’s capital Riga in October 2018.
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