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Indian manufacturers encouraged to produce globally competitive furniture

Aiming to leverage the potential of Indian furniture manufacturers, American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) participated at the recently concluded DelhiWood 2019.

Testament to its confidence in the Indian market, AHEC returned to the show with seven U.S.-based hardwood and veneer exporters, who are all keen to do business in the country. To maintain their growth, Indian manufacturers have to deal with the related challenges of depletion of traditional sources of wood supply, and a strong focus on avoiding any wood products that might come from illegal sources in the main consuming countries of North America and Europe. According to AHEC, an effective strategy to overcome these challenges is to manufacture products from American hardwoods which are not only abundant but backed by an assurance of legal and sustainable production which is already well recognized in the main consumer markets.

“India’s exports of wood-based products, which mainly comprise wood furniture, more than doubled from
US$ 500 million in 2010 to US$ 1.05 billion in 2017. Latest data indicates that exports increased a further 7 percent to around US$ 1.13 billion in 2018. Last year, 40 percent of exports were destined for the United States and 31 percent for the EU. Much of the product exported to the US and the EU is sold to big corporations now being targeted by regulators and environmentalists in their efforts to reduce illegal logging in wood supply countries,” said Roderick Wiles, AHEC Regional Director.

India’s vast wooden furniture and handicrafts sector still relies heavily on locally-sourced hardwood species, such as mango, acacia and sheesham (Dalbergia).

The last of these timbers is now identified by CITES as an endangered species and trade is subject to tight control. Although the other species are not endangered in the same way, overall supply is restricted and there is growing competition for the wood that is available. The wood supply situation is also greatly complicated by the highly fragmented structure of forest operations and the wood trade and by the rising demand for assurances that timber derives from legal sources. This last trend is driven by the introduction and tightening of laws which make importers of all wood products, including furniture, liable to sanction if any illegal wood is identified in the products they sell. In 2018, countries implementing these laws, which include the United States, the whole of the EU, Australia, Japan and South Korea, accounted for over three quarters of the total value of India’s wood product exports. Against this background, the ability of wood product suppliers to deal with the related challenges of tightening wood supply and legality assurance has become a major demonstrate conformance.

India’s exports of wood-based products:

US$
500
million

1.05
billion

US$
1.13
billion

40% to US
31% to EU
29% to ROW