According to the latest statistics, U.S. hardwood lumber shipped to India from January to August of this year increased by 196 percent in volume to 2,842 cubic meters and by 96 percent in value to USD 1.65 million. Close to a third of the volume shipped during this period was accounted for by red oak, which was not shipped to India at all in 2018. Significant increases were also seen in the volume and value of exports of American walnut (88 percent and 117 percent), white oak (14 percent and 44 percent), hickory (131 percent and 42 percent) and maple (39 percent and 32 percent). In addition, the total value of U.S. hardwood veneers exported to India for the same time period was USD 2.94 million - up by 19 percent in comparison to 2018.
“While traditionally a tropical hardwood market, log export restrictions in Gabon, Myanmar, Malaysia, and other tropical countries have forced Indian manufacturers to look for alternate wood supply sources. In the past, a favorable tariff structure has supported log imports, but the poor/inadequate level of processing by domestic sawmills has prompted the Indian trade to import higher volumes of lumber in recent years,” said Roderick Wiles, AHEC Regional Director.
While exports of U.S. hardwood lumber products continue to increase into India, there is still a general lack of awareness and education in the Indian market, and various consumption hubs limit exports. A particular reason for the smaller market share of U.S. hardwoods is the general lack of knowledge in India (grades, sizes, end-use and application) of the American species. As a result, the highly price-sensitive Indian importers and manufacturers are very quick to switch to alternate species from other countries, as they do not understand the differences in quality.