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U.S. importers and resellers of tropical hardwood lumber have received some additional shipments in recent weeks.
However, increasing worldwide demand, higher shipping costs and unfavorable currency exchange rates continue to drive up replacement costs. The euro has climbed nearly 10% in value against the U.S. dollar over the last four months, making African woods—most of which are bought and sold in euros—much more expensive.
“The strong euro is eating our lunch,” said one importer lamenting the rising replacement costs. “We are at a tipping point where either mothballed African sawmills will have to start back up, or we’ll be looking at big price increases on species like Khaya (African Mahogany) and Sapele.”
At least one import yard has already implemented large sales price increases on nearly every tropical species to offset much higher replacement costs; several others are taking a more gradual approach. Despite the recent uptick in receipts, importers are still running low on Spanish Cedar, Ipé and a host of other tropical woods. “Supplies of hardwood are tight all over the world,” said one contact who routinely travels to South America and Southeast Asia buying tropical hardwood lumber for the manufacture of truck trailer floors.