Industry News

Brexit to have strong impact on tropical imports in the short term, ITTO claims

The UK’s decision to leave the EU - so-called 'Brexit' - has created a crisis for the global economy, claimed the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO).

According to ITTO, UK withdrawal from the European Union will have significant implications on the tropical timber sector: in fact the UK is the largest importer of tropical timber in the EU with around 25% of the total value imported into the EU from tropical countries.
"Uncertainty and a slowing of economic growth in the UK and the EU will have an immediate impact on imports of wood products from tropical countries. Longer term, the prospects for tropical timber in the UK and the EU will depend on how quickly the UK and the EU recover from this shock", added the organization.

Regarding international timber trade regulations and agreements already in place, ITTO remarked that "the UK in both the public and private sector has been a leading player amongst EU countries to develop measures such as the EUTR, provide political and technical support for FLEGT and promote responsible timber procurement policies. There’s no reason to expect Brexit to lead to a reduction in this level of commitment, nor a reduction in co-operation between EU and UK agencies seeking to address these issues."

Download the complete Tropical Timber Market report here.


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New rapeseed-based resin could replace dangerous chemicals in wood-panels production

French oilseed group Avril has announced a joint venture with Israeli start-up Biopolymer Technologies and state investment bank BPI France to invest 72 million euros (£61 million) in producing a resin ingredient from rapeseed that will help reduce the presence of - and exposure to - dangerous chemicals in the wood panel industry.

Through this joint venture - called Evertree - the three partners intend to foster the development of new commercial uses for vegetable proteins, in order to address new manufacturing requirements and growing consumer expectations, especially in terms of VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) reduction or even removal. 

VOCs exposure may affect health (irritations, reduced respiratory capacity, olfactory pollution; some VOCs are also considered to be carcinogens) and the environment (an early factor in ozone formation, greenhouse gases, and the formation of secondary particles). 

According to Evertree, the rapeseed-based resin performs either identically or better than those from the most frequently used petrochemical sources, without presenting any health risks for production staff or customers. 

The new venture is expected to launch a pilot project this year after doing tests with wood panel firms. The production capacity should be then gradually increased to reach 50,000 tons per year by 2020, thus enabling the creation of 110 direct jobs. 

“Plant chemistry offers a substantial alternative to the use of fossil resources and can literally revolutionize numerous industrial applications", said Fabrice Garrigue, CEO of Evertree.

“Proteins are a major issue for the planet. By improving the techniques for protein fraction, as it has done in the vegetable oil industry, Avril is particularly well placed to bring concrete solutions to the protein challenge", added Michel Boucly, Deputy CEO of the Avril Group. 


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BMF issues briefing paper on Apprenticeships Levy

The Builders Merchants’ Federation (BMF) has issued a briefing paper to all its members to outline changes that the UK Government is making to the way apprenticeships are structured and financed.

The Apprenticeships’ Levy will apply to businesses with a paybill of more than £3 million a year. In the briefing, the BMF alerts its members that medium-sized businesses employing between 100-200 staff will become liable to pay it when it comes into force on 6 April 2017.

"The BMF did not ask for a compulsory levy to be imposed on our members. There is a case for greater employer participation in the training and funding of apprentices - but I am not convinced these proposals are the right ones”, said BMF Managing Director John Newcomb.

“Trying to meet a fixed date of 6 April 2017 is risky. Getting this right must take precedence over forcing the pace of change. No-one wants to re-visit this in a year or two to put things right. The absence of clarity on how it will operate in Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland is concerning”.

"The Apprenticeships’ Levy is part of a complex but concerted move by the UK Government to boost productivity & employment and improve vocational training & skills. Changes to Corporation Tax and National Insurance Contributions are being made to incentivise employers to invest more", Mr Newcomb added.

The BMF has also announced another briefing direct to its members - focused on arrangements affecting employers not liable to pay the Levy, but who do currently take on apprentices, or plan to in the future.


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