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Sustainable Development of Sino-African Timber Trade

(Create time:2009-5-27 Hits: Source: http://chinawood.net)

Africa is one of the biggest suppliers of hardwood to China, and China is Africas biggest export destination vice versa. Thus timber trade between China and African countries are important to both of them.

President Hu Jintaos visit to African countries in February indicates a better prospect of cooperation between China and Africa, and the relative Chinese governments have decided to strength the forest cooperation with African countries afterwards.

NGOS such as IUCN, FT, WWF and etc are concern about the issue of Sino-African timber trade and have done some researches. Some Chinese companies have invested in Gabon in timber felling and processing. Some African organizations are very tend to cooperate with Chinese governments, which is becoming hot issue in the following years.

1. Timber trade between China and African countries

1.1 Timber trade between China and African countries

Table 1. Log imported from African countries from 2001 to 2008 in 1000 m3


Data source: Chinas Customs

Log import volume from African countries accounts for 10% of the total in China in 2008, with 90% of logs. But the import volume from African countries is not stable.

Table 2. Lumber imported from African countries from 2001 to 2008 in 1000 m3


Data source: Chinas Customs

Most of African countries have implemented restriction on log export in recent years, and they encourage processing log in local areas and export lumber. Therefore, we could see lumber import from African countries has raised a lot in 2008.

1.2 Primary timber supplier in Africa

Table 3. Timber trade between China and Gabon from 2001 to 2008 in 1000 m3


Data source: Chinas Customs

Gabon is one of the Chinas major timber suppliers in Africa,whose export volume is far more other African countries, for example, it is threefold of the second largest country the Republic of Congo. Timber imported form Gabon nearly accounts for 50% of the total in Africa.

Table 4. Timber trade between China and the Republic of Congo from 2001 to 2008 in 1000 m3


Data source: Chinas Customs

The Republic of Congo is the second largest timber export country to China in Africa, accounting for about 20% of the total in Africa.

2. Major timber merchants in China and Africa

2.1 Major timber exporters in Africa

Major exporters in Gabon are companies of France, Malaysia, and China, among which French companies are most powerful, with smaller ones covering 200 000 ha. of forest land. The typical companies are Rougier Ocean Gabon of France, SNBG of Gabon, Rimbunan Hijau of Malaysia and etc. Chinese companies are much smaller than French companies. Typical Chinese companies are Chinese Sunly Office in Gabon and Huajia Wood Stock Co., Ltd.

2.2 Primary timber importers in China The typical importers in China are Wenzhou Wood Group Trade Co., Ltd, SUMEC International Technology Co., Ltd, Jiangsu Provincial Foreign Trade Corporation and etc.

2.3 Import port for African timber 90% of the African log is imported through Zhangjiagang port, and most of African lumber is imported through Shanghai and Guangzhou port. This is determined by the distribution of manufactories around the port and the demand by nearby provinces.

3. Analysis of sustainable timber trade between China and Africa Timber trade between China and African countries is closely related with every links on the trade chain, from felling and processing, trading, to transportation and consumers.

3.1 Timber logging and processing companies Log felling and processing are at the head of the chain. Any activities in Africa related to log felling, processing and export must comply with local policies. In Africa, felling and processing companies control the timber source, and involve in export, thus they play an important role in Sino-African forest sustainable development.

3.2 Trading companies About 90% of African timber exported to China is conducted by trading companies. They are connecting supplier with manufacturers, and distribute timber to different markets according to various utilizations. First level wholesalers import timber from Africa directly.

3.3 Transporters All of the companies on the trade chains may need transport. Transport in China and African countries must obey relative policies. Such as in China the transport certificate is needed for transporting loads.

3.4 Processing companies Wood processing companies usually purchase timber from trading companies. Processing companies can hardly purchase timber from first level wholesaler in port, but normally from second or third level wholesalers in markets.

3.5 Consumers China is major consumer of African timber, but doesnt have high requirement for certification. American and European countries are the second largest consumers, and they are gradually raising the requirements for timber legality. Consumers attitude to forest certification is crucial to the sustainable development of Sino-African timber trade.

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