Portugal: Timber, furniture makers warn of impact on exports as forests burn

Page created: Friday, 18 August 2017 9:49 GMT


Porto, Aug. 17 (Lusa) – Portugal’s Association of Timber and Furniture Manufacturers (AIMMP) warned on Thursday that the thousands of hectares of forest that have burned this year represent “another blow” to a major export sector that is already suffering from a shortage of its main raw material.

“We’re very concerned,” said the AIMMP’s president, Vítor Poças. “This year is another blow … for a sector that exports a lot and which has an advantage that other export sectors don’t: the large proportion of domestic inputs, because if you export a renewable natural resource … you’re incorporating added value to sell, and not buying raw material [from abroad] to process and export.”

Adding that “in the past eight years the sector’s exports have increased by eight hundred million euros, [at a rate of] a hundred million euros per year”, and “timber and furniture alone are worth 2.4 billion euros” in sales abroad, Poças said that the industry “is, of all Portugal’s export sectors, the one that boasts the highest rate of domestic inputs in its exports.”

But he warned of the need to take good care of this key national resource: “We can only sell what we have, so if we stop having forests, one of these days we’ll have nothing to sell.”

He stressed that the industry has already faced a worsening shortage of raw material in recent years, as fires have consumed woodland at a rate of 100,000 hectares a year.

In the first half of 2017, sector exports totalled almost €1.198 billion, up 3% on the same period of 2016.