Wednesday, July 13, 2016
The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), the leading international trade association for the American hardwood industry, has announced plans to host two seminars for importers, traders and end users of American hardwoods in India in September, 2016. The seminars, which are being held in Jodhpur (Tuesday, September 6th) and Delhi (Friday, September 9th), will help attendees obtain a better understanding of the physical properties, grades and the potential for applications offered by the different species of American hardwoods, and reflect AHEC’s renewed commitment to cater to and expand further in India, which has demonstrated a growing appetite for U.S. hardwoods for a number of years.
The seminars are being organized jointly with the Jodhpur Handicrafts Exporters’ Association (JHEA) and the Timber Merchant Association in Delhi. Roderick Wiles, AHEC Regional Director, will provide an introduction to American hardwoods and cover topics including sustainable forest management and selection harvesting in the United States, hardwood production, U.S. hardwood species and suitability for applications. In addition, he will also talk briefly about new market opportunities for American hardwoods. Dana Spessert, Chief Inspector, National Hardwood Lumber Association (NHLA) will provide an introduction to grading American hardwood lumber and a practical demonstration of the NHLA Rules for grading American hardwood lumber.
“Our seminar will be specifically about American hardwoods for interiors (flooring, joinery, furniture), although we will also briefly cover the topic of thermally-modified hardwoods for exterior applications (decking and cladding etc), as well as certain applications for non-durable hardwoods in exteriors, such as American white oak for windows and doors. We shall also look at the environmental credentials of U.S. hardwoods and touch on Life Cycle Assessment and carbon footprint of materials and transport. The presentations will be educational, but also inspirational, as we will show many different and exciting projects from around the world, where American hardwoods have been used,” said Roderick Wiles, AHEC Regional Director.
While U.S. hardwood exports to India remain very low relative to the potential size of market, awareness is increasing, perceptions are changing and demand is on the rise. In the past six months, four previously unknown users of American hardwood lumber have been identified in India and many others have started to ask about suitable U.S. hardwood species for the products they make. AHEC believes that this is a key time for the US hardwood industry to redouble its efforts in India and to try to capitalize on what could be a turning point in the market. It must, of course, still be acknowledged that India is far from an easy export destination for U.S. hardwoods, owing to complex import regulations and high import tariffs, as well as a limited understanding of the grades and specifications available. However, genuine demand is now present and there is a willingness amongst the trade and manufacturers to learn about and try American hardwood species for the first time.
“Some of the improved market conditions can be attributed to the solid performance of the Indian economy and reforms under Modi, whilst others can be attributed to a general need to find alternative hardwood sources. Limited access to teak, partly due to the Myanmar log export ban of 2014 and partly due to inconsistent availability of Indian-grown logs, has created an opportunity for other tropical hardwood log suppliers. In 2015, the shortfall in India’s teak log imports was made up by imports from the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, as well as from West and Central Africa. However, this reduced access to teak – India’s preferred hardwood species – is also leading to interest in finding suitable temperate hardwood species for certain applications. AHEC has already renewed its efforts in India and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future,” concluded Wiles.