AHEC Announces First Ever Trade Servicing Mission to South Africa

Michael Snow, AHEC Executive Director (left) and Roderick Wiles, AHEC Director for Africa, Middle East, India and Oceania (right) at the Dubai WoodShow 2013

AHEC Experts Highlight the Environmental Credentials and Market Potential of U.S. Hardwoods at ‘Dubai WoodShow 2013’ Seminar

April 15, 2013 - The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), the leading international trade association for the American hardwood industry, has announced plans for a trade servicing mission to South Africa in May this year. The announcement follows AHEC’s participation at the Dubai WoodShow 2013 where Michael Snow, Executive Director and Roderick Wiles, Director for Africa, Middle East, India and Oceania, highlighted the environmental credentials and market potential of U.S hardwoods at the ‘Dubai WoodShow 2013’ seminar. The seminar was centered on the various possibilities of building with wood with the speakers covering four main topics including - wood as a building material in the GCC; wood as a design component of architectural projects; the current state of wood use in the GCC; and timber legality.

Building a case for wood as the only true and naturally sustainable building material, Michael Snow talked about the ISO-conformant report on the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) of rough-sawn kiln-dried American hardwood lumber and threw the spotlight on the true environmental credentials of the U.S. hardwood resource. AHEC commissioned the LCA study in 2010 and the recently released report contains extensive data on the environmental profile of U.S. rough-sawn, kiln-dried hardwood lumber using a comprehensive set of environmental impacts. In addition, it also covers the environmental life cycle of hardwood lumber from point of harvest in the U.S. through to delivery at the importers yard in major export markets. Snow also outlined the current progress in developing Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) for American hardwoods and was confident that EPDs will soon be widely recognized as an essential standard across leading building rating systems.

Speaking at the sidelines of the seminar, Snow stated: “The development of EPDs is a response from the confusion that arises from the wide variety of environmental claims made by material suppliers, some may be genuine while some may just be downright false. The true environmental impacts of materials cannot be summed up by one single attribute, and it is time that consumers and policy makers had the ability to truly compare the environmental footprint of the different products and materials they source. Through our LCA study and the release of EPDs, it is AHEC’s goal that for once the wood products industry in general, and American hardwoods in particular, will be ahead of the curve and will set the bar from the beginning, and not simply play defence as we have done too often in the past.”

Addressing some of the biggest contractors, importers and specifiers that have a genuine interest in working with wood, Roderick Wiles outlined the market potential for American hardwoods in the region. According to the latest USDA data, total exports of U.S. hardwood lumber and veneer to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region reached USD 86.54 million for the year 2012. Significantly, the statistics revealed that the UAE, in value, was the number one destination for U.S. hardwood lumber for 2012, with total shipments reaching USD 11.62 million, rising by 14 percent in comparison to the previous year. Wiles is positive that direct interaction through seminars, trade missions and exhibitions are vital to sustaining and stimulating demand within the interiors sector in the MENA region, which has maintained a consistently high demand for American hardwoods.

“For American hardwoods, the Middle East has been a great success story, showing consistent growth in demand for the past fifteen years or so, even weathering the Global Financial Crisis. The UAE, for instance, is a timber trading and wood processing epicentre and an architecture and interior design hub for much of the Gulf region and many markets way beyond. At the same time, demand for U.S. hardwoods across the rest of the Gulf has risen steadily, while countries in the Levant and North Africa have also evolved into major timber consuming markets. Today, the United States is the number one supplier of temperate hardwoods to the Gulf and, as if to prove this, we see American species being used in a wide range of new projects, including hotels, restaurants, retail outlets, villas and even schools and universities,” concluded Wiles.

Following the success of the ‘Timber Legality’ seminar at the exhibiton last year, the organizers decided to host a seminar this year under the theme - ‘Promoting wood solutions in the GCC’. The seminar aims to explore and promote wood solutions in the design and construction sectors of the GCC by involving professionals who are directly engaged in projects where wood is specified, both as a building and decorative material. Other speakers included experts from the UAE Society of Engineers; Emirates Authority For Standardization and Metrology; Malaysian Timber Certification Council; Quebec Wood Export Bureau; Malaysian Timber Council; Dubai Central Laboratory; Dubai Municipality; Stewart & Leong Consulting LLC; and the American University in Dubai.

Photograph Above : Michael Snow, AHEC Executive Director (left) and Roderick Wiles, AHEC Director for Africa, Middle East, India and Oceania (right) at the Dubai WoodShow 2013.

About AHEC:

The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) is the leading international trade association for the U.S. hardwood industry, representing the committed exporters among U.S. hardwood companies and all the major U.S. hardwood production trade associations. AHEC runs a worldwide programme to promote American hardwoods in over 50 export markets, concentrating on providing architects, specifiers, designers and end-users with technical information on the range of species, products and sources of supply. In addition, AHEC also produces a full range of technical publications. For more information please visit: http://www.americanhardwood.org .