The biggest French wood industry association, FNB, raised an alarm signal aimed at the political scene and the media regarding the rising exports of roundwood to Asia (especially via China). During a press conference held end of March the association presented numbers that illustrated that French exports of beech and oak logs to China have tripled since 2007, reaching 300.000 m³.
FNB recognizes a transformation that prompts long-term changes within the structure of the French wood industry, in the sawmills as well as in other companies that process wood. President of FNB, Laurent Denormandie, urges the political scene and the people responsible to reflect upon regulatory measures against a continuous rise in exports of raw timber to the Far East. It's not an issue of protectionism, but a "realistic observation" of the situation, stressed Denormandie. "We must think about the future", he continued.
Demand for roundwood increases in China
In a few years the demand for roundwood in China will rise from 100 Mio. m³ (present level) to 150 Mio. m³, if we extrapolate the numbers given by the Chinese National Development and Reform Commission and the Chinese Society of Forestry that cover the time period up to 2015. This rise will be facilitated by China's customs policy, that assigns much higher import duties to finished wood products such as furniture than to imports of roundwood.
Facing these numbers, one cannot be very content to see a progressive shift of the raw material that is wood to the Far East without any possibility to take action. According to Denormandie, the wood industry in France "urgently needs a factual realignment of Chinese and European customs duties on roundwood and sawn lumber". A goal must be set to cheapen prefabricates exports and to introduce quotas for roundwood exports according to the wood type.
Association fears loss of 50 000 jobs
Unless measures are taken by the political scene, up to 50 000 jobs in the wood processing industry could be lost (estimated by the FNB). The erosion phenomenon in our industry sector is speeding up, states the association.
The complete statement of the FNB is available here.