Timber industry resilient but Brexit brings trade friction, survey finds

Timber industry resilient but Brexit brings trade friction, survey finds


It is a challenging time. Two months on from the much anticipated Brexit deal and our survey of members has found a variety of difficulties with logistics, ‘unfettered access’ to Northern Ireland, and increased administration time and cost adding pressure to an already tight supply. 

In December we released a market statement warning of tight timber and panel supplies into 2021 as a result of the global pandemic. Now other pressures are becoming more visible.

Lack of haulage vehicles, inflated costs, and hauliers’ hesitancy to import and export goods from the UK has certainly slowed down trade. In Holyhead, traffic has reportedly fallen 50% as hauliers find their way from Ireland to France without entering the UK.

Going forward we see a variety of challenges for the industry besides logistics. One major concern is UKCA marking. This could raise considerable problems and costs for our members and as the Government is yet to publish full details of how it will work in practice, we foresee businesses struggling to prepare for the implementation in time.

We are working with the Construction Products Association (CPA) and the Confederation of Business Industries (CBI) to advocate for a deferment of the implementation of the mark or to look at equivalence models with CE.

However, despite all this, it is positive to hear our members are optimistic for the year ahead as demand remains at an all-time high. People still want to renovate their homes, and construction remains open for business during lockdowns. We are also extremely pleased that almost half a decade spent preparing members for Brexit seems to be paying off as they feel confident they have the capability and knowledge to conduct trade successfully once the systems are up to speed.

There is still a lot of work left to do, but as ever the Timber Trade Federation will continue to prepare our members for the changes to come.

Yesterday was also the last webinar in the Riverside Sunderland Design Competition (RSUDC21). It has been fantastic to see a great turnout every night from built environment students listening and getting inspired by the interdisciplinary experts on what they can achieve when building with sustainable timber.

You can watch all of the webinars on the RSUDC21 YouTube channel if there was a topic or project you missed.

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