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Timber industry on the rise

Income from exports essential to the economy and to companies’ futures
The economy can no longer rely on its traditional leaders, needing to encourage the work of enterprises across diverse branches. Among them is the Forestry Ministry, which, in the first four months of the year, generated export revenue of $48m (against an initial forecast of $31m). It exported 910,000 cubic metres of timber (up 30 percent on January-April 2015) and 102,000 cubic metres of lumber logs (up 3 percent on 2015).

Timber processing is a promising branch

The Head of the Forestry Ministry’s Department for Production and Sales, Alexander Surta, notes that almost thirty countries purchase our timber. Poland leads, providing over 42 percent of total export revenue, followed by Lithuania (over 13 percent) and Germany, while co-operation with Latvia, China, Belgium and the Netherlands is also bringing decent profit.

Since January 2016, exports of rounded timber have been limited by Presidential decree. So far, this year, 1.9 million cubic metres have been exported (including 1.7 million directly by forestries) and all contracts have been concluded. However, Mr. Surta explains that the Forestry Ministry, the Economy Ministry and Bellesbumprom Concern are requesting that an additional 1.1 million cubic metres be permitted for export, since the current limit will be reach by August (selling 230,000-250,000 cubic metres abroad monthly).

Quality is vital

Mr. Surta notes that the limit needs to be raised to ensure that profit is made, covering all costs. He emphasises that most of the exported timber is ‘low grade’, which cannot be used to produce high added value goods. He asserts, “Our primary task is to provide our own domestic manufacturers with raw materials, but we have a surplus.”

As of early May, stocks at forestries’ warehouses exceeded 1.8 million cubic metres, due to low demand, including from modernised Bellesbumprom enterprises. Meanwhile, over 1.3 million cubic metres of timber are now ‘spare’ due to the postponement of operations at Svetlogorsk Cellulose-Cardboard Factory’s bleached pulp facility. Although domestic market demand for timber grew by 4 percent between January and April, 2016 (against the same period of 2015), unplanned surplus is likely, holding the Forestry Ministry hostage in the wood processing sphere.

IT specialists achieve a great deal

According to Mr. Surta, Belarus has many available resources and — taking into consideration plans to harvest around 24 million cubic metres of timber by 2020 — a surplus of 2.9 million is likely (even if all state and private companies receive all necessary volumes). With this in mind, the Forestry Ministry would like to export the unclaimed surplus. “Of course, we’ll need to find customers, focusing on diversification, if we receive permission. Some of our partners are ready to conclude contracts for several years in advance,” the official adds.

The Ministry plans to initiate lifting of the ban on exports of round timber, with some state agencies already supporting the proposal.

By Maria Drukova
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