Value of American hardwood lumber shipped to Middle East and North Africa region reaches US$24.35M in H1, up 1.3% from previous year: AHEC

DUBAI, UAE , September 18, 2011 () – The UAE has emerged as the largest market for American hardwood lumber in the Middle East & North Africa (MENA) region with over USD 5.39 million worth of imports entering the country during the first half of 2011, according to a statement issued by 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 USD 24.35 million. In addition, the first two quarters have seen exports of U.S. hardwood veneers to the MENA region increase by 15 per cent to USD 10.66 million, while exports of flooring increased by 5 per cent to USD 603,217 and logs by 4 per cent to USD 14.25 million.

According to the most recent reports from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), a total of over USD 1.54 million worth of American red oak was imported into the UAE from January to June of 2011, making up a large part of American hardwood lumber entering the country and further affirming the UAE's position as a major user of this important commercial species. This translates into more than 2,094 cubic metres of American red oak, which represents a 191 per cent increase in value and a 175 per cent increase in quantity as compared to the same period in 2010. Imports of American maple reached USD 869,766 or around 1,109 cubic metres, reflecting a 147 per cent increase in value and a 206 per cent increase in quantity. Meanwhile, imports of American white oak for January to June of 2011 figured at USD 811,985 or 1,184 cubic metres, which represents a 1,921 per cent increase in value and a 2,177 per cent increase in volume over the same period in 2010.

"The UAE continues to show strong and growing demand 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 country's rapidly developing construction segment is expected to drive in more than USD 714.8 billion worth of projects that are either in the design stages or are already underway. The American hardwood industry is confident that this will lead to even greater demand for U.S. 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. Looking across the region, the leading destinations for American hardwood lumber during the first half of 2011 were the UAE (USD 5.39 million), Saudi Arabia (USD 5.265 million) and Egypt (USD 3.828 million). Import figures from other markets include Lebanon (USD 1.34 million), Jordan (USD 1.2 million), Qatar (USD 600,176), Kuwait (USD 522,966), Bahrain (USD 161,000) and Oman (93,000).

"The increase in imports of American hardwoods into the Middle East region demonstrates the positive response of our initiatives to increase awareness on 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.

About AHEC:
The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) is the leading international trade association for the U.S. hardwood industry, representing the committed exporters among U.S. hardwood companies and all the major U.S. hardwood production trade associations. AHEC runs a worldwide programme to promote American hardwoods in over 50 export markets, concentrating on providing architects, specifiers, designers and end-users with technical information on the range of species, products and sources of supply. In addition, AHEC also produces a full range of technical publications. Visit: www.americanhardwood.org.

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