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Tropical Timber Market in Central and West Africa (1st–15th May 2020)

Perceptions of shipping challenges from producers

Millers in the region have provided some comments on shipping opportunities and market developments saying they have been told ports in Italy are closed for timber shipments and that there aremany containers awaiting dispatch from the ports.

Producers say there are few new orders coming frombutas the restrictions there are eased this should change.However,producers do not expect to see any majorincrease in orders for several months.

The authorities in Spain have relaxed some restrictions ontravel and companies are slowly adjusting to virusmanagement regimes but this is having a downwardimpact on productionin Spain. Producers say demand inSpain for sapelli and taliis now low.The problems of shipping to Iraq continueand producershave found that cargo movement through Umm Qasr and BassraPorts is a major problem for shippers.

There are buyers of West African timbers in thePhilippines but they have now asked shippers to delay anyfurther shipments. The Philippinesgovernment recentlyannounced it will ease quarantine measures in some partsof the country but will extend restrictions in Manila andsome other cities until 31 May.

CAR producers unable to transport due to borderclosure

In Cameroon shipments that have been delayed are slowly been loaded and dispatched to ports in Europe which are still operating and to China. Production levels have been driven down as measures to eliminate the spread ofinfection amongst workers are implemented.Producers report delays in having documents processed asso many government offices are without the normal staff levels.With the border between the Central African Republic andCameroon closed,producers in CAF, while still milling,cannot transport to the port in Cameroon.

Timber companies continue to operate in Gabon. The decision by the government in Gabon to ease travel restrictions comes as welcome relief to workers,many ofwhom had been laid off. The lockdown was introduced 13April covering Libreville and three neighbouring communes.The easing of restrictions means that the so-called ‘non-essential’ businesses can reopen. However Gabon’sborders are still closed and the 1800 hr to 0600 hr curfewis still in force.The Ministry of Forestry was, as of mid-May, not fullystaffed but a team is providing the Laissez Passer sotimber companies can continue operations.

As could be expected there have been no pricemovements

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