The sentiment in Europe about the crisis is pretty optimistic and most Europeans I speak to believe “the worst is over” yet I dare to disagree.
Many of our overseas suppliers ask us regularly about our business is in Asia. The first few months were pretty good and certainly better than the last few months in 2012. But I am worried for the 2nd half this year.
We sell our imported timber to manufacturers of a wide range of furniture, doors, flooring and other products and our sales teams meet these customers on weekly basis so, I guess, we do have a pretty good idea about their current export orders. Furniture exports to the USA are steadily improving but are declining to Europe. Most furniture manufacturers complain that the orders taken from European buyers during the various exhibitions earlier this year were disappointing. Exports of doors and flooring (both mainly engineered) to Europe are the worst hit and some Asian manufacturers have taken the unusual step to reduce or even cancel program orders with us.
Another factor is China which is slowing down much faster than expected and this will seriously affect imports from Europe and South East Asia. For example Germany in the past depended very much on technology export to China which will reduce fast.
Based on what we encounter in Asia I believe the crisis is far from over but might have hit rock-bottom but no positive reversal is to be expected soon. Unfortunately it might take another one to two years for Europe to start recovering and imports of Asian made timber products increase a lot.