Global Timber Trade - Information

Mirror Statistics

Mirror Statistics
Mirror statistics are here described as pairs of statistics which, for a given period, compare the quantity of a given product which country A declares that it exports directly to country B with the corresponding quantity which country B declares that it imports directly from country A.

It is disturbing that multi-lateral and trade organisations do not appear to have sought to address what has for many years been the very conspicuous excess in quantity which China declares from its two leading tropical timber suppliers - estimated at a roundwood equivalent of 4 million cubic metres and an import value of US$400 million in 2002. Fraud may account for a high proportion of the excess imported from Indonesia. Illegal Indonesian timber may account for much of the excess imported from Malaysia (including Malaysia's Free Ports).

Based partly on such apparently illegal supplies, China is developing a major wood processing industry to compete against its suppliers.

It is remarkable that China's (and most other countries') imports of sawn wood from Indonesia during 2005 appear to have been unaffected by the ban on sawn wood exports which was imposed within Indonesia throughout 2005. As the upper chart indicates, products which importing countries declare as sawn wood (HS code 4407) might be declared - perhaps fruadulently - by Indonesia as mouldings (HS code 4409).

Remarkably also, the mismatch between the mirror statistics shown for Malaysia fell almost to zero during 2005. Declared sawn wood supplies from Peninsular Malaysia rose fivefold during 2005 offsetting the former mismatch. Although Malaysia's declared log supplies (particularly from Sabah) to China rose during 2005, most of the former mismatch was eliminated by an abrupt but short-lived increase in declared exports of sawn wood exports from Peninsular Malaysia.