The positive and negative shifts in the Burmese Teak market continue, with the latest changes to the Myanmar government. On Thursday, April 28, 2016, newly elected officials announced a major change: a complete ban on all logging. While this decision will certainly affect several species, the main impact globally will be to the Teak market, since Burmese Teak is such a sought-after species.
The government of Myanmar has made this decision allegedly due to overharvesting and illegal logging practices. These concerns are not new. In the wake of Myanmar’s shift within the timber trade from only exporting logs to also sawing logs, the Myanmar government was ready for outside intervention to encourage a quality, sustainable lumber industry. Less than two years ago, the IWPA began working with the Myanmar government to help create a more sustainable timber trade for Myanmar, largely affecting Teak. Evidently, the new Myanmar government doesn’t see the progress of the past two years as being as significant as they had hoped.
Even though harvesting, not exporting, is the target of the current ban, we cannot assume that already felled logs will be allowed to be exported. Sadly, other such bans throughout the world have often resulted in logs being left on the ground with no one allowed to extract and process them for export.
We can certainly expect the already shrinking supply of Teak to continue to dwindle. The ban will affect those whose projects require high-quality Teak or Teak in unusual sizes first, but all Teak customers will become ultimately affected. Pricing will constantly change, as will availability, so if you plan to use Teak for any upcoming projects, be sure to contact J. Gibson McIlvain for current status information before assuming you can get the lumber that you need.
Even if your immediate Teak needs can be met by our existing supply, it seems clear that we will all need to be looking for alternative species in place of Teak, in the near future. One species some of our boat-building customers have already been using is Walnut. Alaskan Yellow Cedar is another excellent exterior species that can be used for boat building and other projects requiring extreme weather resistance. If you don’t need the water-resistant qualities of Teak but are looking for a species with a similar appearance, Afromosia might be a suitable solution for you.
As quickly as the wind can switch, the Myanmar government could change its policies yet again. We have no idea how long the current ban on logging will last or what added regulations will accompany it; it’s simply too early to tell. We will continue to monitor the situation and will keep our Teak customers informed with updates as we find out about them. If you need help deciding how to transition to other species, please let us know.
J. Gibson McIlvain Company
Since 1798, when Hugh McIlvain established a lumber business near Philadelphia, the McIlvain family has been immersed in the premium import and domestic lumber industry. With its headquarters located just outside of Baltimore, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company (www.mcilvain.com) is one of the largest U.S. importers of exotic woods.
As an active supporter of sustainable lumber practices, the J. Gibson McIlvain Company has provided fine lumber for notable projects throughout the world, including the White House, Capitol building, Supreme Court, and the Smithsonian museums.
Contact a representative at J. Gibson McIlvain today by calling toll free (800) 638-9100.