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THE EAGLERAIL HAS LANDED: CEO MIKE WYCHOCKI PUSHES A “NO BRAINER” WHEN IT COMES TO MOVING SHIPPING CONTAINERS AT CONGESTED PORTS

eaglerail

THE EAGLERAIL HAS LANDED: CEO MIKE WYCHOCKI PUSHES A “NO BRAINER” WHEN IT COMES TO MOVING SHIPPING CONTAINERS AT CONGESTED PORTS

It’s amazing where new logistics solutions come from. They are usually born by veteran shippers with visions on how to improve an existing operation. Or it can be a customer or customers seeking help in conquering a specific challenge that eventually resonates throughout the industry.

Then there is the inception of Chicago-based EagleRail Container Logistics’ signature solution. It can be traced to a pitch meeting for a new monorail in Brazil that was attended by a port authority official who was there more as a cheerleader than a participant.

Watching a Chicago marketing man’s PowerPoint presentation about his company’s passenger monorail system to local leaders in São Paulo eight years ago, the port representative, Jose Newton Gama, marveled at how the magnetic levitation (Maglev) trains holding people would be suspended under overhead tracks.

Then the Brazilian known by friends as Newton raised his hand.

“Excuse me?” he asked the Americano. “Could your system be adapted to hold shipping containers?”

That had never occurred to project designers, whose monorail cars for passengers are much lighter than would be required for cargo containers hauled by ships, trucks and freight trains. But the marketing man shared Gama’s question with his colleagues in the Windy City, and that planted the seed that eventually bore EagleRail Container Logistics.

Chief Executive Officer Mike Wychocki was an early investor who eventually bought out that marketing man, but the first EagleRail system is named “Newton” after the Brazilian who now sits on the company’s board of advisors. “He’s a great guy,” says Wychocki during a recent phone interview. “Newton is our biggest cheerleader.”

Wychocki’s no slouch with the pom-poms himself, having pitched EagleRail at 40 ports in 20 countries over the past five years. His company, which has offices around the world, is developing its first prototype in China, and studies are underway at six ports as EagleRail sets about raising $20 million in capital. (The window for small investments had just closed when Wychocki was interviewed. His company has since shifted its focus to large investors.)

The way ports have operated for decades left no need for a system like EagleRail’s. Big ships dock, cranes remove containers stacked on their decks and each box is then moved onto the back of a flatbed truck that either hauls it to a distribution center or an intermodal yard. Until recent years, no one really thought of disrupting the process because, as Wychocki puts it, “you could always find cheaper truck drivers.”

However, truck driver shortages, port-area air pollution and congestion caused by the time it takes to load and unload ever-larger ships have prompted serious soul searching when it comes to short hauls. Expanding the size of ports is often not an option due to the cities that have grown to surround them. This has led to the creation of large container parks for trucks and/or freight trains within a few miles of ports, but getting boxes to those remains problematic—at a time when megaships are only making matters more difficult.

“There is an old saying that ports are where old trucks go to die,” says Wychocki, who ticks off as problems associated with that mode of moving containers pollution, maintenance and fuel costs, as well as the issues of public safety because some drivers essentially live inside of their vehicles, which can attract prostitution and leave behind litter and human waste. Adding even more of these dirty trucks would necessitate more road building, which only adds to environmental concerns.

With ground space at ports a constantly shrinking commodity, tunneling underground may be viewed as an option. But Wychocki points out that many ports have emerged on unstable ground like backfill, and water, power and sewer lines are usually below what’s under the streets beyond port gates. The idea of a hyperloop has been bandied about, but it would require emptying shipping containers at the port, loading the contents into smaller boxes, sending those through to another yard, and then repacking the shipping containers on the other side. “That defeats the whole point” of relieving port congestion, the EagleRail CEO says.

Ah, but every port has unused air space, which is what Wychocki’s company seeks to exploit. “If an Amazon warehouse can lift and shuttle packages robotically,” he says, “why not do the same with a 60,000-pound package? Go to a warehouse. See how Amazon works with packages. They use overhead light rails. It’s an obvious idea, so obvious. It’s a no brainer when you think about it.”

Yes, Amazon also uses drones, but can you imagine the size it would have to be to carry a 60,000-pound shipping container? Wychocki sees a suspended container track as an extension of the cranes on every loading dock worldwide, which is why EagleRail systems are also all-electric and composed of the same crane hardware to avoid snags when it comes to replacing parts.

However, Wychocki is quick to note EagleRail is not a total solution when it comes to port congestion. He calculates that among the short-haul trucks leaving a port, 50 percent are going to 500 different locations, many of which are different states away, while the other half is bound for just a couple nearby destinations. EagleRail is geared toward the latter, and the problem with getting containers to them “is not technological; it’s who controls the five kilometers between the port and the intermodal facility,” he says.

Lifting equipment at ports “is exactly the same in all 200 countries,” he adds. “The part that is not the same is the back end. What is the port’s configuration? Where do the roads come in? What we do is form a consortium and build it with each local player, such as the port authority, the road authority, the national rail company, the power company. Getting everyone involved helps get procurement and environmental rights of way.”

He concedes that getting everyone on board “varies by location,” but when it comes to environmental concerns “everyone’s kind of wanting to do this because it means fewer trucks, and the power companies would prefer the use of electricity (over burning diesel). It sounds harder than it is to get everyone rowing in the same direction.”

Wychocki points to another bonus with EagleRail: It allows for total control of one’s intermodal yard because containers come and go on the same circular route—all day long. “We take this on as a disruptive business model,” he says, noting that short-haul trucks generally involve the use of data-chain-breaking clipboards and mobile phones. EagleRail systems track containers on them in real-time, rolling in all customs paperwork and billing invoices automatically.

“It’s amazing, I just came from the Port of Rotterdam, where I was a keynote,” Wychocki says. “Even the biggest ports in the world like Antwerp were saying, ‘This is great. Why isn’t anyone else doing it?’”

Actually, EagleRail accidentally created direct competition. Wychocki explains that during the initial design phase, his company worked with a foreign monorail concern whose cars used what were essentially aircraft tires rolling inside a closed channel. Concerns about maintaining a system that would invariably involve frequently changing tires—and thus slowing down operations—caused EagleRail to reject that design in favor of another third-party’s calling for steel-on-steel wheels. The designer with tires is pressing on with its own system and without EagleRail.

“I’m glad we didn’t go that route,” says Wychocki, who nonetheless expects more serious competition once EagleRail systems are up and running. Fortunately for the company, there are plenty of ports bursting at the seams that cannot wait that long. Wychocki says a question he invariably gets after pitching EagleRail is: “Where were you 10 years ago? Usually, there is an urgency.”

That’s why “our goal was to get out of the gate fast, build market share and our brand and create a quasi-franchise network,” says Wychocki, whose business model has EagleRail owning 25 percent of a system while the port and other local entities own the rest.

He estimates that within 10 years, 12 EagleRail systems will be operating. If that sounds like a pipe dream, consider that his company’s newsletter boasts 3,000 subscribers before a system is even up and running. Wychocki does not credit “brilliant marketing” for that keen interest. “It’s because every port’s problems are getting worse. Everyone is squealing about what to do with these giant ships that cannot be unloaded fast enough. They are desperate.”

supplies

FREE TRADE IN MEDICINES AND SUPPLIES IS THE HEALTHIEST APPROACH

What Does Trade Have to Do with the Pandemic?

pandemic is a type of epidemic, wherein an outbreak of a disease not only affects a high proportion of the population at the same time, but also spreads quickly over a wide geographic area.

As the novel coronavirus jumped continents, governments in countries yet unaffected or with low incidence rates moved to prevent “importing” the virus through individual travel. Simultaneously, governments acted to create diagnostic kits and treatments for those with the virus – all praise our frontline healthcare workers.

Unfortunately, what could worsen the situation is a policy practice that seems to be infectious. More than 20 governments are banning the export of needed supplies, a prescription for shortages and higher prices. What the crisis also lays bare is that key countries and many important healthcare products remain outside a WTO agreement that would otherwise enable duty-free trade in the medicines and supplies we need on a regular basis.

Pandemic Proportions

In the history of pandemics, there has been none more deadly than the infamous Bubonic Plague which took 200 million lives in the mid-14th century, wiping out half the population on the European Continent. The pathogen spread through infected fleas carried by rodents, frequent travelers on trading ships. The practice of quarantine began in the seaport of Venice, which required any ships arriving from infected ports to sit at anchor for 40 days — quaranta giorni — before landing. Two centuries later, Small Pox took 56 million lives. In the modern era, some 40 to 50 million succumbed to the Spanish Flu of 1918 and HIV/AIDS has claimed 25-35 million lives since 1981.

For perspective, and not to minimize its severe toll, the number of fatalities from novel coronavirus will likely exceed 10,000 by the time of this writing. COVID-19, as it is currently known, is a reminder that we live with the ongoing threat from many types of both known infectious diseases like cholera, Zika and Avian flu, as well as diseases yet unknown to us. Although we can more rapidly detect, contain and treat epidemics, diseases now travel at the speed of a person on board an international flight. Our cities are bigger and denser, further enabling rapid transmission.

Pandemic Prepping Includes Trade

Because we are interconnected, we share the health risks, but we can also problem-solve as a global community. Scientists in international labs share insights to identify viruses, swap guidance on how to conduct confirmatory tests, and quickly communicate best practices for containment.

Outside times of crisis, global trade in health-related products and services has laid the foundation for faster medical breakthroughs through international research and development projects, and by diversifying the capability to produce medical supplies, devices, diagnostics and pharmaceuticals.

Innovation thrives in the United States like nowhere else. Yet, no single country, not even the United States, can discover, produce and distribute diagnostics, vaccines and cures for everything that ails us — or invent every medical intervention that improves the productivity and quality of our lives.

One Quarter of medicines have tariffs

A Dose of Foresight

As the Uruguay Round of multilateral trade negotiations were drawing to a close in 1994, a group of countries representing (at the time) 90 percent of total pharmaceutical production came to an agreement. Each government would eliminate customs duties on pharmaceutical products and avoid trade-restrictive or trade-distorting measures that would otherwise frustrate the objective of duty-free trade in medicines.

The WTO’s Pharmaceutical Tariff Elimination Agreement, which entered into force on January 1, 1995, is known as a “zero-for-zero initiative” to eliminate duties reciprocally in a particular industrial sector. Signed onto over subsequent years by the United States, Europe’s 28 member states, Japan, Canada, Norway, Switzerland, Australia and handful of others, the agreement initially covered approximately 7,000 items that included formulated or dosed medicines, medicines traded in bulk, active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) and other chemical intermediaries in finished pharmaceuticals.

Signatories agreed to expand the list in 1996, 1998, 2006 and 2010 so it now covers more than 10,000 products. Tariffs were eliminated on a most-favored-nation basis, meaning it was extended to imports from all WTO members, not just parties to the agreement.

Maintenance Drugs

Though an important start, the agreement has not been updated in a decade. Trade in products covered by the WTO agreement has risen from $1.3 trillion in 2009 to $1.9 trillion in 2018. Yet, some 1,000 finished products and 700 ingredients are not covered under the agreement, leaving pharmaceutical trade subject to hundreds of millions in customs duties. With China and India increasing manufacturing over the last decade, the value of global trade included in duty-free treatment decreased from 90 percent in 1995 to 81 percent in 2009 to 78 percent in 2018.

It is challenging to chart trade statistics and tariffs on health-related products, particularly since many chemical ingredients have both medical and non-medical uses. Here we have attempted to reproduce tables developed by the WTO in 2010, but we do not include a large number of chemicals that have general use whose tariff lines were not enumerated in the WTO’s analysis.

Health Product Import Shares

In 2010, the European Union and the United States together accounted for almost half of all world imports of health-related products. Europe has become a much larger importer while U.S. imports have decreased slightly as a percentage of global imports. Imports by many big emerging markets including Brazil, Mexico, China, India and Turkey, have increased along with their purchasing power. These countries benefit from zero duties when importing from countries that signed on to the WTO Pharmaceutical Trade Agreement.

Health Product Export Shares

On the export side, Europe dramatically increased its share of global exports while the United States dropped across the board compared to 2010, particularly in medical products and supplies. China shows significant growth in exports of inputs specific to the pharmaceutical industry – including antibiotics, hormones and vitamins – as well as medical equipment including diagnostic reagents, gloves, syringes and medical devices. India also increased its exports of all types of pharmaceuticals, particularly ingredients, but did not drive up its share across all types of exported health-related products. China and India would benefit from zero duties without having to reciprocate for exports from countries that signed on to the WTO agreement.

That said, according to the trade data, China and India still only account for 5.4 percent of global exports in health-related products covered by the agreement. Therefore, simply expanding membership to include these countries is not sufficient to enlarge duty-free trade – the number of tariff lines covered by the agreement would also need to expand to capture a significant portion of traded healthcare products.

Emerging Market Pharm Trade

Tariffs as a Symptom

The final price of a pharmaceutical is determined by many factors that differ by country. Costs and markups occur along the distribution chain from port charges to warehousing, to local government taxes, distribution charges, and hospital or retailer markups. Tariffs may seem a relatively small component of the final price, but the effect is compounded as all of these “internal” costs accumulate and they are symptomatic of complex regulatory systems.

A 2017 study by the European Centre for International Political Economy determined that tariffs on final prices add an annual burden of up to $6.2 billion in China. In Brazil and India, tariffs on medicines may increase the final price by up to 80 percent of the ex-factory sales price. Imported pharmaceuticals are at a clear disadvantage and patients bear the burden in cost and diminished availability.

Side Effects

According to the U.S. International Trade Commission, the U.S. pharmaceutical industry historically shipped bulk APIs from foreign production sites to the United States before formulating into dosed products. After the WTO agreement, it became viable to import more finished products duty-free. Over the years, a failure to add more APIs to the duty-free list reinforced this trend. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration also allows firms to import formulated products prior to receiving marketing approval to prepare for a new product launch but does not allow bulk API importation before market approval.

The urgency to accrue adequate supplies and treatments for COVID-19 has reignited a debate on U.S. over-reliance on China and India for antibiotics, among other medicines. What if factories must close? What if China and India withhold supplies? If raw materials and ingredients are derived in those countries, would the United States be able to ramp up domestic production? The White House is considering incentives and Buy America government procurement requirements to stimulate demand for U.S. production and in the meanwhile has temporarily reduced tariffs on medical supplies such as disposable gloves, face masks and other common hospital items from China.

20 Countries Ban Medical Exports

A Cure Worse Than the Disease

Removing barriers to trade in essential products is a healthier approach than imposing restrictions that could exacerbate potential shortages.

Nonetheless, some 20 countries have announced a ban on the export of medical gear – masks, gloves, and protective suits worn by medical professionals. They include Germany, France, Turkey, Russia, South Korea, India, Taiwan, Thailand and Kazakhstan.

Governments generally do maintain national stocks of critical items to enable manufacturers to ramp up production in cases of health emergencies or address unexpected gaps in their supply chains. But when major producers withhold global supply, importing countries face shortages and higher prices. Dangerously, India’s trade restrictions go beyond medical gear to restrict export of 26 pharmaceutical ingredients. India, however, relies heavily on APIs imported from China for their medicines, much of it originating from factories in Hubei province where the outbreak emerged.

Bans tend to beget more bans, potentially wreaking havoc on pharmaceutical and medical product supply chains, making it more difficult for healthcare workers to stem spread of the virus. Poorer countries with already fragile and underfunded healthcare systems are left in an even more vulnerable position.

A Test for Public-Private Collaboration

Instead of export restrictions, governments can expedite purchase orders and otherwise support industry efforts to ramp up production for domestic and global use. Most global manufacturers are operating at several times their usual capacity since the initial outbreak in China. Private labs are utilizing high-throughput platforms to conduct more tests faster but require trade in the chemical reagents needed to start up and run the tests.

Biopharmaceutical firms are applying their scientific expertise to accelerate the development of a vaccine and treatments for COVID-19. They are reviewing their research portfolios, investigating previously approved medicines that have potential to treat the virus, and donating approved investigational medicines to the global research effort. Internationally, scientists are collaborating through a Norway-based nonprofit called the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations on COVID-19 vaccine development. They know that the more options, the better – most drug candidates will not get through all three phases of clinical trials.

Recovery

Epidemic diseases evolve and they do not respect borders. Treating them, as well as the myriad chronic diseases and other ailments that affect us more routinely, requires new and adapted medical technologies arising from innovation made widely available through trade.

While there’s nothing inherently wrong with providing incentives to encourage domestic production, it should not come at the expense of free trade in health-related products. Tariffs should be eliminated on life-saving medicines and their ingredients. Governments must impose restrictions on exports temporarily and only when absolutely necessary. In this way, openness in trade will help promote the recovery of both our health and our economies.

Many thanks to economist and contributor Alice Calder for running all the trade numbers in this article. Full data tables may be accessed here.

__________________________________________________________________

Andrea Durkin is the Editor-in-Chief of TradeVistas and Founder of Sparkplug, LLC. Ms. Durkin previously served as a U.S. Government trade negotiator and has proudly taught international trade policy and negotiations for the last fifteen years as an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University’s Master of Science in Foreign Service program.

Alice Calder

Alice Calder received her MA in Applied Economics at GMU. Originally from the UK, where she received her BA in Philosophy and Political Economy from the University of Exeter, living and working internationally sparked her interest in trade issues as well as the intersection of economics and culture.

This article originally appeared on TradeVistas.org. Republished with permission.

cement

Global Cement Market Reached $305B, With China Leading the Expansion

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘World – Cement – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends And Insights’. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

The global cement market revenue amounted to $305.4B in 2018, flattening at the previous year. This figure reflects the total revenues of producers and importers (excluding logistics costs, retail marketing costs, and retailers’ margins, which will be included in the final consumer price). The market value increased at an average annual rate of +3.0% from 2007 to 2018; however, the trend pattern indicated some noticeable fluctuations being recorded in certain years.

Consumption By Country

China (2,363M tonnes) remains the largest cement consuming country worldwide, accounting for 58% of total volume. Moreover, cement consumption in China exceeded the figures recorded by the second-largest consumer, India (289M tonnes), eightfold. The third position in this ranking was occupied by the U.S. (101M tonnes), with a 2.5% share. From 2007 to 2018, the average annual growth rate of volume in China totaled +5.2%.

Production 2007-2018

In 2018, the global cement production totaled 4,072M tonnes, growing by 1.8% against the previous year. The total output volume increased at an average annual rate of +3.6% from 2007 to 2018; however, the trend pattern indicated some noticeable fluctuations being recorded in certain years.

In value terms, cement production amounted to $289.7B in 2018 estimated in export prices. The total output value increased at an average annual rate of +2.6% from 2007 to 2018.

Production By Country

The country with the largest volume of cement production was China (2,370M tonnes), accounting for 58% of total volume. Moreover, cement production in China exceeded the figures recorded by the second-largest producer, India (290M tonnes), eightfold. The U.S. (89M tonnes) ranked third in terms of total production with a 2.2% share.

Exports 2007-2018

In 2018, the amount of cement exported worldwide amounted to 113M tonnes, picking up by 12% against the previous year. In value terms, cement exports stood at $8.1B (IndexBox estimates) in 2018. Over the period under review, cement exports, however, continue to indicate a slight decline.

Exports by Country

In 2018, China (7,314K tonnes), Germany (6,242K tonnes), Canada (6,241K tonnes), Viet Nam (6,196K tonnes), the United Arab Emirates (5,592K tonnes), Turkey (5,484K tonnes), Pakistan (4,190K tonnes), Greece (4,036K tonnes), Spain (3,657K tonnes), Japan (3,233K tonnes), Senegal (3,028K tonnes) and Slovakia (2,503K tonnes) were the main exporters of cement exported in the world, generating 51% of total export.

From 2007 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of exports, amongst the main exporting countries, was attained by the United Arab Emirates, while exports for the other global leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

Export Prices by Country

The average cement export price stood at $72 per tonne in 2018, remaining relatively unchanged against the previous year. In general, the cement export price continues to indicate a relatively flat trend pattern. Prices varied noticeably by the country of origin; the country with the highest price was Germany ($83 per tonne), while Greece ($49 per tonne) was amongst the lowest.

Imports 2007-2018

In 2018, the amount of cement imported worldwide stood at 122M tonnes, going up by 11% against the previous year. The total import volume increased at an average annual rate of +2.1% from 2007 to 2018. In value terms, cement imports stood at $8.9B (IndexBox estimates) in 2018. The total import value increased at an average annual rate of +1.2% from 2007 to 2018.

Imports by Country

In 2018, the U.S. (14M tonnes), followed by Sri Lanka (6,687K tonnes) represented the main importers of cement, together comprising 17% of total imports. China, Hong Kong SAR (5,399K tonnes), the Philippines (4,652K tonnes), Oman (4,509K tonnes), Singapore (4,382K tonnes), France (3,859K tonnes), the UK (3,430K tonnes), the Netherlands (3,320K tonnes), Palestine (2,706K tonnes), Cambodia (2,479K tonnes) and Mali (2,292K tonnes) followed a long way behind the leaders.

Imports into the U.S. increased at an average annual rate of +1.8% from 2007 to 2018. The Philippines (+3.8 p.p.), Sri Lanka (+3.8 p.p.), China, Hong Kong SAR (+3.4 p.p.), Oman (+3.4 p.p.), the U.S. (+2.1 p.p.) and Cambodia (+1.5 p.p.) significantly strengthened its position in terms of the global imports, while the shares of the other countries remained relatively stable throughout the analyzed period.

Import Prices by Country

In 2018, the average cement import price amounted to $73 per tonne, rising by 1.9% against the previous year. Overall, the cement import price, however, continues to indicate a relatively flat trend pattern. Prices varied noticeably by the country of destination; the country with the highest price was the Netherlands ($101 per tonne), while Singapore ($45 per tonne) was amongst the lowest.

Companies Mentioned

Lafarge Holcim , Anhui Conch Cement Company Limited , China National Building Materials (CNBM), China Resources Cement Holdings, HeidelbergCement AG, Cemex, S.A. de C.V., Saint-Gobain, Ambuja Cements, Italcementi, Votorantim Cimentos

Source: IndexBox AI Platform

salt

Asia’s Salt Market – India is the Largest and Fastest Growing Exporter in the Region

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘Asia – Salt – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights’. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

The revenue of the salt market in Asia amounted to $8.3B in 2018, approximately equating the previous year. This figure reflects the total revenues of producers and importers (excluding logistics costs, retail marketing costs, and retailers’ margins, which will be included in the final consumer price). The market value increased at an average annual rate of +3.8% from 2007 to 2018; the trend pattern indicated some noticeable fluctuations being recorded over the period under review.

Consumption By Country

China (74M tonnes) remains the largest salt consuming country in Asia, comprising approx. 57% of total consumption. Moreover, salt consumption in China exceeded the figures recorded by the region’s second-largest consumer, India (16M tonnes), fivefold. The third position in this ranking was occupied by Japan (5.7M tonnes), with a 4.4% share.

From 2007 to 2018, the average annual rate of growth in terms of volume in China stood at +1.5%. The remaining consuming countries recorded the following average annual rates of consumption growth: India (+0.8% per year) and Japan (-0.9% per year).

In value terms, China ($5.3B) led the market, alone. The second position in the ranking was occupied by Pakistan ($435M). It was followed by Japan.

In 2018, the highest levels of salt per capita consumption was registered in Taiwan, Chinese (134 kg per person), followed by Turkey (63 kg per person), Saudi Arabia (61 kg per person) and South Korea (53 kg per person), while the world average per capita consumption of salt was estimated at 28 kg per person.

In Taiwan, Chinese, salt per capita consumption remained relatively stable over the period from 2007-2018. The remaining consuming countries recorded the following average annual rates of per capita consumption growth: Turkey (+5.3% per year) and Saudi Arabia (+0.7% per year).

Production in Asia

In 2018, approx. 124M tonnes of salt and pure sodium chloride were produced in Asia; growing by 2.1% against the previous year. The total output volume increased at an average annual rate of +2.3% from 2007 to 2018; the trend pattern remained consistent, with somewhat noticeable fluctuations being observed in certain years. The pace of growth was the most pronounced in 2013 when production volume increased by 14% y-o-y. In that year, salt production reached its peak volume of 124M tonnes. From 2014 to 2018, salt production growth failed to regain its momentum.

In value terms, salt production totaled $8.2B in 2018 estimated in export prices. The total output value increased at an average annual rate of +3.3% over the period from 2007 to 2018; the trend pattern indicated some noticeable fluctuations being recorded in certain years.

Exports in Asia

In 2018, approx. 16M tonnes of salt and pure sodium chloride were exported in Asia; going up by 21% against the previous year. In general, salt exports continue to indicate buoyant growth. The pace of growth was the most pronounced in 2011 with an increase of 44% year-to-year. The volume of exports peaked in 2018 and are likely to continue its growth in the immediate term.

In value terms, salt exports amounted to $528M (IndexBox estimates) in 2018. In general, salt exports continue to indicate prominent growth. The most prominent rate of growth was recorded in 2008 when exports increased by 49% y-o-y. Over the period under review, salt exports reached their maximum in 2018 and are expected to retain its growth in the immediate term.

Exports by Country

India prevails in salt exports structure, reaching 13M tonnes, which was approx. 79% of total exports in 2018. It was distantly followed by China (1,448K tonnes), committing a 9% share of total exports. The following exporters – Kazakhstan (377K tonnes), Turkey (375K tonnes) and Pakistan (301K tonnes) – each finished at a 6.5% share of total exports.

From 2007 to 2018, average annual rates of growth with regard to salt exports from India stood at +25.1%. At the same time, Kazakhstan (+53.6%), Turkey (+26.7%), Pakistan (+18.1%) and China (+5.9%) displayed positive paces of growth. Moreover, Kazakhstan emerged as the fastest-growing exporter in Asia, with a CAGR of +53.6% from 2007-2018. While the share of India (+73 p.p.), China (+4.2 p.p.), Kazakhstan (+2.3 p.p.), Turkey (+2.2 p.p.) and Pakistan (+1.6 p.p.) increased significantly, the shares of the other countries remained relatively stable throughout the analyzed period.

In value terms, India ($227M) remains the largest salt supplier in Asia, comprising 43% of total salt exports. The second position in the ranking was occupied by China ($93M), with a 18% share of total exports. It was followed by Pakistan, with a 9.8% share.

In India, salt exports increased at an average annual rate of +22.2% over the period from 2007-2018. In the other countries, the average annual rates were as follows: China (+9.1% per year) and Pakistan (+28.6% per year).

Export Prices by Country

In 2018, the salt export price in Asia amounted to $33 per tonne, dropping by -2.5% against the previous year. Overall, the salt export price continues to indicate a noticeable downturn. The growth pace was the most rapid in 2008 when the export price increased by 26% year-to-year. In that year, the export prices for salt and pure sodium chloride reached their peak level of $63 per tonne. From 2009 to 2018, the growth in terms of the export prices for salt and pure sodium chloride failed to regain its momentum.

Prices varied noticeably by the country of origin; the country with the highest price was Pakistan ($171 per tonne), while India ($18 per tonne) was amongst the lowest.

From 2007 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was attained by Pakistan, while the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

Source: IndexBox AI Platform

Recovered fibre pulp

China’s Recovered Fibre Pulp Market to Reach 82M Tonnes by 2025

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘China – Recovered Fiber Pulp – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights’. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

The revenue of the recovered fibre pulp market in China amounted to $23.3B in 2018, approximately reflecting the previous year. This figure reflects the total revenues of producers and importers (excluding logistics costs, retail marketing costs, and retailers’ margins, which will be included in the final consumer price). Overall, the total market indicated a buoyant increase from 2007 to 2018: its value increased at an average annual rate of +4.2% over the last eleven years. The trend pattern, however, indicated some noticeable fluctuations being recorded throughout the analyzed period. Based on 2018 figures, recovered fibre pulp consumption decreased by -23.7% against 2015 indices. The growth pace was the most rapid in 2012 when the market value increased by 32% y-o-y. Recovered fibre pulp consumption peaked at $30.5B in 2015; however, from 2016 to 2018, consumption remained at a lower figure.

Market Forecast 2019-2025 in China

Driven by increasing demand for recovered fibre pulp in China, the market is expected to continue an upward consumption trend over the next seven-year period. Market performance is forecast to retain its current trend pattern, expanding with an anticipated CAGR of +3.8% for the seven-year period from 2018 to 2025, which is projected to bring the market volume to 82M tonnes by the end of 2025.

Production in China

In 2018, the recovered fibre pulp production in China stood at 63M tonnes, leveling off at the previous year. The total output volume increased at an average annual rate of +4.2% over the period from 2007 to 2018; however, the trend pattern indicated some noticeable fluctuations being recorded throughout the analyzed period. The most prominent rate of growth was recorded in 2009 with an increase of 13% against the previous year. Recovered fibre pulp production peaked at 63M tonnes in 2015; however, from 2016 to 2018, production failed to regain its momentum.

In value terms, recovered fibre pulp production amounted to $22.8B in 2018 estimated in export prices. In general, recovered fibre pulp production continues to indicate a prominent increase. The pace of growth was the most pronounced in 2011 with an increase of 47% against the previous year. Over the period under review, recovered fibre pulp production reached its maximum level at $33.3B in 2015; however, from 2016 to 2018, production remained at a lower figure.

Exports from China

In 2018, approx. 549 tonnes of recovered fibre pulp were exported from China; increasing by 3% against the previous year. Overall, the total exports indicated a conspicuous increase from 2007 to 2018: its volume increased at an average annual rate of +3.0% over the last eleven years. The trend pattern, however, indicated some noticeable fluctuations being recorded throughout the analyzed period. Based on 2018 figures, recovered fibre pulp exports decreased by -5.2% against 2016 indices. The most prominent rate of growth was recorded in 2012 when exports increased by 55% against the previous year. Over the period under review, recovered fibre pulp exports attained their maximum at 579 tonnes in 2016; however, from 2017 to 2018, exports remained at a lower figure.

In value terms, recovered fibre pulp exports amounted to $198K (IndexBox estimates) in 2018. Over the period under review, recovered fibre pulp exports continue to indicate a significant increase. The pace of growth appeared the most rapid in 2012 with an increase of 114% y-o-y. Exports peaked at $282K in 2015; however, from 2016 to 2018, exports stood at a somewhat lower figure.

Exports by Country

China, Hong Kong SAR (93 tonnes), Kyrgyzstan (76 tonnes) and the U.S. (74 tonnes) were the main destinations of recovered fibre pulp exports from China, together accounting for 44% of total exports.

From 2007 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of exports, amongst the main countries of destination, was attained by the U.S. (+55.3% per year), while the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

In value terms, Kyrgyzstan ($45K), South Korea ($27K) and the U.S. ($24K) appeared to be the largest markets for recovered fibre pulp exported from China worldwide, with a combined 49% share of total exports.

Among the main countries of destination, Kyrgyzstan (+50.3% per year) experienced the highest growth rate of exports, over the last eleven years, while the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

Export Prices by Country

In 2018, the average recovered fibre pulp export price amounted to $361 per tonne, therefore, remained relatively stable against the previous year. Overall, the recovered fibre pulp export price continues to indicate a relatively flat trend pattern. The most prominent rate of growth was recorded in 2012 when the average export price increased by 38% against the previous year. Over the period under review, the average export prices for recovered fibre pulp reached their maximum at $525 per tonne in 2015; however, from 2016 to 2018, export prices failed to regain their momentum.

Prices varied noticeably by the country of destination; the country with the highest price was South Korea ($1,273 per tonne), while the average price for exports to Togo ($53 per tonne) was amongst the lowest.

From 2007 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was recorded for supplies to South Korea, while the prices for the other major destinations experienced more modest paces of growth.

Imports into China

In 2018, the imports of recovered fibre pulp into China totaled 11K tonnes, going down by -3.9% against the previous year. In general, recovered fibre pulp imports continue to indicate a perceptible curtailment. The growth pace was the most rapid in 2009 when imports increased by 85% y-o-y. In that year, recovered fibre pulp imports reached their peak of 20K tonnes. From 2010 to 2018, the growth of recovered fibre pulp imports failed to regain its momentum.

In value terms, recovered fibre pulp imports amounted to $5.9M (IndexBox estimates) in 2018. Overall, recovered fibre pulp imports continue to indicate a temperate decrease. The pace of growth was the most pronounced in 2009 with an increase of 97% y-o-y. Over the period under review, recovered fibre pulp imports attained their peak figure at $12M in 2010; however, from 2011 to 2018, imports remained at a lower figure.

Imports by Country

Malaysia (3.4K tonnes), Indonesia (2.9K tonnes) and the U.S. (2.9K tonnes) were the main suppliers of recovered fibre pulp imports to China, with a combined 81% share of total imports.

From 2007 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of imports, amongst the main suppliers, was attained by Indonesia (+68.3% per year), while the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

In value terms, the U.S. ($1.8M), Indonesia ($1.5M) and Malaysia ($1.4M) were the largest recovered fibre pulp suppliers to China, with a combined 79% share of total imports.

In terms of the main suppliers, Indonesia (+65.2% per year) recorded the highest rates of growth with regard to imports, over the last eleven years, while the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

Import Prices by Country

In 2018, the average recovered fibre pulp import price amounted to $512 per tonne, increasing by 1.8% against the previous year. Over the period from 2007 to 2018, it increased at an average annual rate of +1.8%. The pace of growth was the most pronounced in 2010 when the average import price increased by 24% year-to-year. Over the period under review, the average import prices for recovered fibre pulp reached their maximum at $610 per tonne in 2013; however, from 2014 to 2018, import prices remained at a lower figure.

There were significant differences in the average prices amongst the major supplying countries. In 2018, the country with the highest price was Saudi Arabia ($961 per tonne), while the price for South Africa ($364 per tonne) was amongst the lowest.

From 2007 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was attained by Malaysia, while the prices for the other major suppliers experienced more modest paces of growth.

Source: IndexBox AI Platform

spanish flu

The Spanish Flu and the Stock Market: The Pandemic of 1919

Everyone is concerned about the coronavirus and how it is impacting the global economy. Parts of China have been quarantined to prevent the spread of the virus and the world is wondering how the virus will disrupt supply chains between China and the rest of the world and how it will impact global travel. Will cities that are cut off from the rest of the world be able to contribute to the global economy?

The main precedent for the coronavirus is the SARS epidemic of 2002-2004, but you should also look at the more serious Spanish Flu pandemic of 1919.  It is estimated that the Spanish Flu infected 500 million people worldwide, or about 27% of the world’s population and killed between 30 million and 50 million people, or about 1.7% of the world’s population. Were a similar pandemic to hit the world today, this would translate into 100 million deaths. This made the Spanish flu one of the deadliest epidemics in history. The pandemic occurred in the last year of World War I and military censors in France, Germany, the United Kingdom, United States and other countries were told to control information on the flu fearing that it would affect their ability to win the war, but there was no censorship on the flu in neutral Spain where King Alfonso XIII took ill. This gave the world the false impression that the flu originated in Spain, hence the name.

The Spanish flu came in three waves as is illustrated in Figure 1. The first wave, which made people notice the flu, occurred in July 1918.  The second and most deadly wave occurred in October 1918 and resulted in millions of deaths. A final wave of the flu occurred in February 1919, and after that, the flu disappeared. Either the virus mutated to a less lethal form or doctors got better at treating or preventing it. Just as no one knows for sure exactly where the virus came from, no one knows why it disappeared.

Figure 1. Death Rates of the Spanish Flu, June 1918 to May 1919

It is interesting to contrast the response of the stock market to the Spanish flu in 1919 with the coronavirus in 2020. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell over 2,000 points in four days out of fear that the coronavirus will continue to spread and impact the global economy. The fear is that cities will become quarantined, supply chains will be broken, world trade will be impacted and growth in the global economy will slow down.

However, the impact of the Spanish Flu on the stock market was minimal. If you look at the Dow Jones Industrial Average in 1918 and 1919, you can see that the stock market was relatively unaffected by any of the three waves of the Spanish flu. Of course, the Spanish flu occurred in 1918 while World War I was raging in Europe so the war had a larger impact on the stock market than the flu. There were few if any global supply chains that the Spanish Flu could disrupt because the war made supply chains nonexistent. The second and worst wave of flu occurred at the end of World War I when peace was finally achieved after four years of devastating destruction. It is interesting that there was little impact on the stock market of World War I ending on November 11, 1918. Perhaps euphoria about the conclusion of the war was offset by concerns about the Spanish flu.

It is comforting to see that when the final wave of the Spanish flu subsided in February 1919, the market began an increase of 50% which lasted until November of 1919.  Whether this increase occurred because of the end of World War I or the end of the flu or both is impossible to say, but it does provide encouragement that once the coronavirus begins to subside, the market will bounce back once again.

Figure 2. Dow Jones Industrial Average, January 1918 to December 1919

________________________________________________________________

Dr. Bryan Taylor is President and Chief Economist for Global Financial Data. He received his Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate University in Economics writing about the economics of the arts. He has taught both economics and finance at numerous universities in southern California and in Switzerland. He began putting together the Global Financial Database in 1990, collecting and transcribing financial and economic data from historical archives around the world. Dr. Taylor has published numerous articles and blogs based upon the Global Financial Database, the US Stocks and the GFD Indices. Dr. Taylor’s research has uncovered previously unknown aspects of financial history. He has written two books on financial history.

modex

MODEX Day Two: Coronavirus Impacting More than Just Trade Operations

Day two for MODEX 2020 concluded with industry players addressing the now-notorious coronavirus and what this means for both domestic and international markets fortunate enough to continue operations without disruption. From what we learned during the session, “Coronavirus and Global Supply Chains” the wave currently felt in China, Italy, and beyond, will eventually make its way to the U.S. and companies have no reason not to be prepared.

Researcher Philip J. Palin, John Paxton with MHI, and David Shillingford with Resilience360 took the unsettling topic head-on and addressed concerns without hesitation. Traders be aware: for domestic and untouched international markets, the worst isn’t over. The coronavirus creates more than just health concerns. It impacts trade operations, legal concerns, and causes financial turmoil as we’ve already started to see.

“The virus is the primary cause of the supply chain impact but the secondary causes coming from the virus include financial, regulatory, compliance, and legal,” explained Shillingford. “Another risk to think about is workforce risk. How many of the workers that left for Chinese New Year have been able to come back, and for those that have returned, are they able to work with open factories or are they still under quarantine?”

“The good news is, the extraordinary supply and demand disruption we’re discussing in terms of China is being released. It’s slow but it’s happening and it’s giving us a benchmark of for how long domestic disruption will be,” Palin stated after announcing the first containership from China arrived at the Port of Los Angeles in almost 10 days on Monday.

Shillingford goes on to explain the shifting patterns in consumer behavior as well, noting that due to worldwide panic, demand is shifting and challenging the logistics sector. Buying habits have undoubtedly changed in recent weeks along with mindsets. Interactions are now limited to a fist-bump or elbow touch rather than a handshake and the numbers of public events cancelled are going up.

“Other things we are seeing involve personnel movement. It’s not just transportation impacted,” Shillingford added.

On the legal side of the crisis, Chinese suppliers are having an issue with certificates and contractual obligations. Shillingford urges industry players to understand the importance of knowing if suppliers have been issued force majeure slips.

“One thing supply chains hate is variance, and there’s going to be a lot of variance and volatility on the demand side,” he concluded.

What does all this mean for the U.S.? At the end of the day, it’s a matter of preparation and strategizing for the more fortunate markets without the disruption of a complete shut-down.

“There was a hidden, horrible problem in the Hubei province that required a draconian measure to prevent transmission of the virus. We should be ahead of that curve as well as the rest of the world, even with this very contagious virus,” explained Palin. “And even if we are behind that curve, we don’t have 300 million workers separated from their place of work.”

veneer sheets

Veneer Sheets Market in Asia-Pacific To Post Solid Gains

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘Asia-Pacific – Veneer Sheets – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights’. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

The revenue of the veneer sheets market in Asia-Pacific amounted to $10.8B in 2018. This figure reflects the total revenues of producers and importers (excluding logistics costs, retail marketing costs, and retailers’ margins, which will be included in the final consumer price). The market value increased at an average annual rate of +1.9% from 2007 to 2018; the trend pattern remained relatively stable, with only minor fluctuations throughout the analyzed period. Over the period under review, the veneer sheets market reached its peak figure level in 2018 and is likely to continue its growth in the immediate term.

Consumption By Country in Asia-Pacific

China (2.7M cubic meters) constituted the country with the largest volume of veneer sheets consumption, accounting for 33% of total volume. Moreover, veneer sheets consumption in China exceeded the figures recorded by the second-largest consumer, Viet Nam (1.1M cubic meters), twofold. The third position in this ranking was occupied by Indonesia (684K cubic meters), with a 8.2% share.

In China, veneer sheets consumption remained relatively stable over the period from 2007-2018. In the other countries, the average annual rates were as follows: Viet Nam (+20.9% per year) and Indonesia (+4.6% per year).

In value terms, the largest veneer sheets markets in Asia-Pacific were Viet Nam ($2.8B), China ($2.6B) and Malaysia ($1.7B), together accounting for 66% of the total market.

In 2018, the highest levels of veneer sheets per capita consumption was registered in New Zealand (99 cubic meters per 1000 persons), followed by Malaysia (19 cubic meters per 1000 persons), Viet Nam (12 cubic meters per 1000 persons) and South Korea (7.39 cubic meters per 1000 persons), while the world average per capita consumption of veneer sheets was estimated at 2 cubic meters per 1000 persons.

Market Forecast 2019-2025 in Asia-Pacific

Driven by increasing demand for veneer sheets in Asia-Pacific, the market is expected to continue an upward consumption trend over the next decade. Market performance is forecast to retain its current trend pattern, expanding with an anticipated CAGR of +2.2% for the period from 2018 to 2030, which is projected to bring the market volume to 11M cubic meters by the end of 2030.

Production in Asia-Pacific

In 2018, the veneer sheets production in Asia-Pacific stood at 7.4M cubic meters, standing approx. at the previous year. The total output volume increased at an average annual rate of +1.2% from 2007 to 2018; the trend pattern remained consistent, with somewhat noticeable fluctuations in certain years. Over the period under review, veneer sheets production reached its maximum volume at 7.8M cubic meters in 2014; however, from 2015 to 2018, production stood at a somewhat lower figure.

Production By Country in Asia-Pacific

China (3M cubic meters) remains the largest veneer sheets producing country in Asia-Pacific, accounting for 40% of total volume. Moreover, veneer sheets production in China exceeded the figures recorded by the second-largest producer, Viet Nam (1.1M cubic meters), threefold. The third position in this ranking was occupied by Indonesia (761K cubic meters), with a 10% share.

From 2007 to 2018, the average annual growth rate of volume in China was relatively modest. The remaining producing countries recorded the following average annual rates of production growth: Viet Nam (+20.6% per year) and Indonesia (+5.9% per year).

Exports in Asia-Pacific

In 2018, approx. 817K cubic meters of veneer sheets were exported in Asia-Pacific; going up by 12% against the previous year. The total exports indicated a prominent expansion from 2007 to 2018: its volume increased at an average annual rate of +5.3% over the last eleven-year period. The trend pattern, however, indicated some noticeable fluctuations being recorded throughout the analyzed period. The volume of exports peaked in 2018 and are likely to see steady growth in the near future. In value terms, veneer sheets exports amounted to $843M (IndexBox estimates) in 2018.

Exports by Country

China represented the key exporter of veneer sheets exported in Asia-Pacific, with the volume of exports accounting for 508K cubic meters, which was near 62% of total exports in 2018. Indonesia (97K cubic meters) occupied the second position in the ranking, followed by Myanmar (61K cubic meters) and New Zealand (54K cubic meters). All these countries together held approx. 26% share of total exports. The following exporters – Viet Nam (24K cubic meters) and Malaysia (24K cubic meters) – each recorded a 6% share of total exports.

Exports from China increased at an average annual rate of +10.0% from 2007 to 2018. At the same time, Indonesia (+15.8%), Myanmar (+14.0%) and Viet Nam (+10.7%) displayed positive paces of growth. Moreover, Indonesia emerged as the fastest-growing exporter exported in Asia-Pacific, with a CAGR of +15.8% from 2007-2018. By contrast, New Zealand (-1.5%) and Malaysia (-7.1%) illustrated a downward trend over the same period.

In value terms, China ($448M) remains the largest veneer sheets supplier in Asia-Pacific, comprising 53% of total veneer sheets exports. The second position in the ranking was occupied by Indonesia ($88M), with a 10% share of total exports. It was followed by Malaysia, with a 9% share.

Export Prices by Country

The veneer sheets export price in Asia-Pacific stood at $1,032 per cubic meter in 2018, reducing by -1.7% against the previous year. Overall, the veneer sheets export price continues to indicate a relatively flat trend pattern.

Prices varied noticeably by the country of origin; the country with the highest price was Malaysia ($3,129 per cubic meter), while New Zealand ($684 per cubic meter) was amongst the lowest.

From 2007 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was attained by Viet Nam, while the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

Imports in Asia-Pacific

In 2018, the veneer sheets imports in Asia-Pacific totaled 1.7M cubic meters, picking up by 5.6% against the previous year. In general, veneer sheets imports continue to indicate buoyant growth. In value terms, veneer sheets imports totaled $1.1B (IndexBox estimates) in 2018.

Imports by Country

Japan (515K cubic meters) and India (351K cubic meters) represented the main importers of veneer sheets in 2018, reaching near 30% and 20% of total imports, respectively. China (227K cubic meters) held a 13% share (based on tonnes) of total imports, which put it in second place, followed by South Korea (9.4%), Taiwan, Chinese (7.2%), Malaysia (5.7%) and Viet Nam (5.1%).

From 2007 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of imports, amongst the main importing countries, was attained by India, while imports for the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

In value terms, India ($227M), Japan ($185M) and Viet Nam ($114M) constituted the countries with the highest levels of imports in 2018, together accounting for 49% of total imports.

Import Prices by Country

The veneer sheets import price in Asia-Pacific stood at $619 per cubic meter in 2018, growing by 5.9% against the previous year. In general, the veneer sheets import price, however, continues to indicate a slight decrease.

There were significant differences in the average prices amongst the major importing countries. In 2018, the country with the highest price was Viet Nam ($1,293 per cubic meter), while Japan ($358 per cubic meter) was amongst the lowest.

From 2007 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was attained by Malaysia, while the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

Source: IndexBox AI Platform

MDF

The EU MDF Market to Post Moderate But Steady Growth

IndexBox has just published a new report: ‘EU – MDF – Market Analysis, Forecast, Size, Trends and Insights’. Here is a summary of the report’s key findings.

The revenue of the MDF market in the European Union amounted to $5.3B in 2018. This figure reflects the total revenues of producers and importers (excluding logistics costs, retail marketing costs, and retailers’ margins, which will be included in the final consumer price). The market value increased at an average annual rate of +5.5% over the period from 2013 to 2018; the trend pattern remained consistent, with only minor fluctuations in certain years. The pace of growth appeared the most rapid in 2018 when the market value increased by 12% y-o-y. In that year, the market attained its peak level and is likely to continue its growth in the immediate term.

Consumption by Country

Poland (3.3M cubic meters) constituted the country with the largest volume of MDF consumption, accounting for 28% of total volume. Moreover, MDF consumption in Poland exceeded the figures recorded by the second-largest consumer, Italy (1.3M cubic meters), threefold. The third position in this ranking was occupied by the UK (1.3M cubic meters), with a 11% share.

In Poland, MDF consumption expanded at an average annual rate of +6.6% over the period from 2013-2018. In the other countries, the average annual rates were as follows: Italy (+7.5% per year) and the UK (+2.7% per year).

In value terms, the largest MDF markets in the European Union were Poland ($1.3B), Italy ($713M) and the UK ($657M), together accounting for 50% of the total market. France, Spain, Germany, the Netherlands, Romania, Portugal, Austria, Sweden and Hungary lagged somewhat behind, together accounting for a further 39%.

In 2018, the highest levels of MDF per capita consumption was registered in Poland (87 cubic meters per 1000 persons), followed by Portugal (38 cubic meters per 1000 persons), Romania (29 cubic meters per 1000 persons) and Austria (28 cubic meters per 1000 persons), while the world average per capita consumption of MDF was estimated at 23 cubic meters per 1000 persons.

Market Forecast to 2030

Driven by increasing demand for MDF in the European Union, the market is expected to continue an upward consumption trend over the next decade. Market performance is forecast to decelerate, expanding with an anticipated CAGR of +2.4% for the period from 2018 to 2030, which is projected to bring the market volume to 16M cubic meters by the end of 2030.

Production in the EU

The volume of MDF production totaled 13M cubic meters in 2018, remaining constant against the previous year. The total output increased at an average annual rate of +2.7% from 2013 to 2018; the trend pattern remained relatively stable, with only minor fluctuations being recorded throughout the analyzed period. The pace of growth appeared the most rapid in 2015 with an increase of 8.4% y-o-y. The volume of MDF production peaked at 13M cubic meters in 2017, leveling off in the following year.

Production by Country

Poland (3.6M cubic meters) remains the largest MDF producing country in the European Union, accounting for 28% of total volume. Moreover, MDF production in Poland exceeded the figures recorded by the second-largest producer, Spain (1.5M cubic meters), twofold. The third position in this ranking was occupied by Germany (1.5M cubic meters), with a 11% share.

In Poland, MDF production expanded at an average annual rate of +4.8% over the period from 2013-2018. In Spain, the average annual rates stood at +6.3% per year, while in Germany, the volume of production practically mirrored its outset level of 2013.

Exports in the EU

In 2018, the amount of MDF exported in the European Union amounted to 6.5M cubic meters, remaining relatively unchanged against the previous year. Overall, MDF exports, however, continue to indicate a relatively flat trend pattern. The pace of growth appeared the most rapid in 2016 when exports increased by 3.3% y-o-y. In that year, MDF exports attained their peak of 6.7M cubic meters. From 2017 to 2018, the growth of mdf exports failed to regain its momentum. In value terms, MDF exports amounted to $3.3B (IndexBox estimates) in 2018.

Exports by Country

In 2018, Germany (1.5M cubic meters), distantly followed by Belgium (1,012K cubic meters), Poland (682K cubic meters), Spain (643K cubic meters), France (436K cubic meters), Austria (404K cubic meters) and Ireland (322K cubic meters) were the major exporters of MDF , together comprising 77% of total exports. Romania (261K cubic meters), Portugal (259K cubic meters), Italy (218K cubic meters), Hungary (185K cubic meters) and Slovenia (136K cubic meters) followed a long way behind the leaders.

From 2013 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of exports, amongst the main exporting countries, was attained by France, while exports for the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

In value terms, the largest MDF supplying countries in the European Union were Germany ($854M), Belgium ($565M) and Austria ($317M), with a combined 53% share of total exports. These countries were followed by Spain, Poland, France, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Hungary and Slovenia, which together accounted for a further 39%.

Export Prices by Country

The MDF export price in the European Union stood at $503 per cubic meter in 2018, picking up by 7% against the previous year. Over the period under review, the export prices for MDF reached their maximum in 2014; however, from 2015 to 2018, export prices remained at a lower figure.

Prices varied noticeably by the country of origin; the country with the highest price was Austria ($784 per cubic meter), while Romania ($292 per cubic meter) was amongst the lowest.

From 2013 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was attained by Italy, while the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

Imports in the EU

In 2018, approx. 5.3M cubic meters of MDF were imported in the European Union; going up by 5.3% against the previous year. The total import volume increased at an average annual rate of +5.2% from 2013 to 2018; the trend pattern remained relatively stable, with only minor fluctuations being observed throughout the analyzed period. The growth pace was the most rapid in 2017 with an increase of 8.6% against the previous year. The volume of imports peaked in 2018 and are expected to retain its growth in the immediate term. In value terms, MDF imports stood at $2.6B (IndexBox estimates) in 2018.

Imports by Country

The countries with the highest levels of MDF imports in 2018 were Italy (599K cubic meters), the UK (570K cubic meters), the Netherlands (469K cubic meters), Germany (463K cubic meters), France (433K cubic meters), Poland (411K cubic meters), Belgium (335K cubic meters), Portugal (269K cubic meters), Spain (249K cubic meters), Sweden (212K cubic meters) and Romania (201K cubic meters), together acoounting for 80% of total import.

From 2013 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of imports, amongst the main importing countries, was attained by Poland, while imports for the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

In value terms, the largest MDF importing markets in the European Union were the UK ($338M), Germany ($269M) and Italy ($255M), with a combined 33% share of total imports. France, the Netherlands, Spain, Poland, Belgium, Sweden, Portugal, Romania and Austria lagged somewhat behind, together accounting for a further 49%.

Import Prices by Country

The MDF import price in the European Union stood at $492 per cubic meter in 2018, rising by 4.9% against the previous year. Over the period under review, the mdf import price, however, continues to indicate a slight curtailment.

Prices varied noticeably by the country of destination; the country with the highest price was the UK ($593 per cubic meter), while Poland ($320 per cubic meter) was amongst the lowest.

From 2013 to 2018, the most notable rate of growth in terms of prices was attained by Spain, while the other leaders experienced more modest paces of growth.

Source: IndexBox AI Platform

coronavirus

Coronavirus and Global Trade

Global trade is affected by myriad factors. The latest event to affect the international supply chain is the recent coronavirus that causes COVID-19. This novel virus has infected more than 80,000 people and killed more than 2,700.1 More cases are expected as the virus moves beyond its point of origin in China’s Hubei province to the rest of the world.

Resulting labor deficits and quarantine procedures could have major effects on production and shipping worldwide. Events like this one reinforce the need for companies to have detailed logistical plans in place to compensate for the shortages and delays that are likely to result.

Serious impacts expected

Worldwide health crises and other disasters have had significant effects on the global supply chain in the past. The comparatively minor outbreak of sudden acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) identified in 2003, also originating in China, cost the global economy about $40 billion dollars.2

In the wake of such catastrophes as SARS; the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001; Hurricane Katrina in 2005; and the meltdown at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in 2011, it is reasonable to expect that the coronavirus could have similarly long-reaching effects. Several factors are likely to exacerbate its impacts on global supply chain economics.

First, the outbreak occurred during the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday, which took place between Jan. 25 and Feb. 4. Annually, this holiday precipitates what is considered the largest human migration on Earth over a period of about 40 days.3 Between early January and mid-February each year, hundreds of millions of Chinese people travel to visit relatives, much as Americans do during the Christmas holiday.

In an effort to slow the spread of the virus, many Lunar New Year celebrations were canceled, and the government issued travel bans4 and instituted a quarantine of millions of people, which prevents laborers from returning to work.5 The quarantine has had major effects on the labor force responsible for producing goods as well as loading and piloting the ships and planes used to transport goods all over the world.

The effects of the coronavirus outbreak might also affect the detente in the trade war between the United States and China signified by the signing of the “phase one” trade deal on Jan. 15. The new deal orchestrated by the administration of President Donald Trump promises $200 billion in sales to China.6 The coronavirus outbreak has the potential to impede these sales by creating a drag on the supply chain.

Identifying alternatives

Companies increasingly have attempted to anticipate the consequences of unexpected events on their suppliers and shippers. Disaster recovery plans have become an essential defense against the ramifications of these events.

While the production of these plans has become an industry in and of itself, all plans are not created equal. Some do not factor in delays in production and transport. A comprehensive disaster recovery plan needs to account for both. Merely hoping that problems will not rear their heads is no longer an adequate strategy.

In the case of the coronavirus outbreak, if a vendor relies on goods produced in China, it needs to have an alternative source of production. With a labor supply held up by quarantine procedures, it might be a while before production capabilities reach normal levels. The trade war has opened competitive production markets in Mexico, India, Malaysia, and Indonesia, among other places. Thus, there is little if any excuse not to have identified other production centers that can make up the shortfall in the event of a disaster.

Furthermore, it is imperative to assess whether transport services will have the capacity to ship existing inventory in the case of a crisis. If there is a backlog and a resulting lack of transport space, shipping costs might increase substantially. Delays in the wake of the Chinese Lunar New Year take place every year regardless, and in a time of crisis, delays will be even more marked. Establishing a plan with shipping partners for such events might not totally offset the cost increase. However, it can create space in the budget for it. Additionally, locating alternative routes and carriers ahead of time can allow companies to circumvent delays entirely.

While certainly expensive and complicated at the outset, disaster planning can pay dividends in the inevitable case of a major global crisis. Even if anticipated delays never manifest, planning for them might open new routes of production and shipping that ultimately can be used to increase efficiency during times of normal business operation.

Thinking ahead

Ample precedent exists for the alternative of no plan, which leads to an inability to meet demand and the financial consequences that result. Investors take note of such deficiencies and allocate funds accordingly. Developing an agile approach to anticipated problems will increase in importance as the global economy becomes more complex.

While the coronavirus outbreak continues, another disaster is already looming. The implementation of Brexit over the next year will have massive consequences in terms of customs and duty, taxation, and supply chain strategy. Getting ahead of this incipient crisis by anticipating its effects on the production and movement of goods can increase your company’s resilience.

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 Learn more

Pete Mento, Managing Director at Crowe LLP

+1 202 779 9907 or pete.mento@crowe.com

Endnotes

1. Helen Regan, Adam Renton, Meg Wagner, Mike Hayes, and Veronica Rocha, “February 25 Coronavirus News,” CNN, Feb. 25, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/asia/live-news/coronavirus-outbreak-02-25-20-hnk-intl/index.html

2. World Health Organization, “SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome),” https://www.who.int/ith/diseases/sars/en/; William Feuer, “Coronavirus: The Hit to the Global Economy Will Be Worse Than SARS,” cnbc.com, Feb. 6, 2020, https://www.cnbc.com/2020/02/06/coronavirus-the-hit-to-the-global-economy-will-be-worse-than-sars.html

3. Karla Cripps and Serenitie Wang, “World’s Largest Annual Human Migration Now Underway in China,” CNN, Jan. 23, 2019 https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/lunar-new-year-travel-rush-2019/index.html

4. “China Coronavirus Spread Is Accelerating, Xi Jinping Warns,” Jan. 26, 2020, BBC https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-51249208

5. Emily Feng, “45 Million Chinese Now Under Quarantine as Officials Try to Halt Coronavirus Spread,” NPR, Jan. 27, 2020, https://www.npr.org/2020/01/27/800158025/45-million-chinese-now-under-quarantine-as-officials-try-to-halt-coronavirus-spr

6. James Palmer, “The ‘Phase One’ Trade Deal Is Still Hypothetical,” Foreign Policy, Jan. 15, 2020, https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/01/15/phase-one-us-china-trade-deal-hypothetical-trump-liu-he/