French woodworkers petition: China buys too much oak, asking the government to save the industry

On Thursday, June 10, AFP reported that about 3,500 oak industry workers submitted a petition to the government, asking the government to save the oak-related industry. They said that because of China’s rapid economic recovery, importers have too big an appetite to buy up too much French oak, so it has caused many companies to close down.

Later on June 10, these oak industry representatives will meet with Agriculture Minister Julien de Normandie to re-emphasize to him the urgency of state intervention to save the oak-related industry. In fact, they have already called for the state’s attention at the end of April this year. Among these people are sawyers, joiners, carpenters, builders, etc. The shortage of raw materials for the woodworking industry, they said, would cause a shock to an important part of the French economy, the small and medium-sized enterprises, which would affect the entire French timber and forestry economy and whose impact would not be easily eliminated.

Russia, the world’s second largest timber exporter, has announced its intention to stop exporting certain timber, while China’s economic recovery is booming and the demand for oak purchases is reaching the point of spillover into France. The French National Wood Federation, the French Federation of Wood and Forest Industry and other parties complained that the wood-related industries currently provide about 440,000 jobs, including wood processing this field can provide 50,000 jobs. In four months, France’s oak exports have been on par with the number of a full year in 2020, which has left some workers in France facing no work to do and companies closing down.

This is not the first time that the supply of French oak has worried the industry, in 2017, sawyers and forest owners had a tense relationship, and this time they asked the government to lend a helping hand to save “this 10 years of continuous chronic poisoning of the industry”. This time, in order to temporarily alleviate the problem, the French National Forest Service decided to sell an extra batch of oak ahead of schedule before this summer. The French National Forest Service sells half of all the oak in France. In addition, forest experts will organize a special sale in the summer to sell oak only to companies with the EU logo.

This will temporarily alleviate the current sluggish oak harvesting season, but in the long run will not solve the problem. The industry is therefore beginning to reflect on whether the oak sales model and commercialization model needs to be improved. Currently 25% of the French oak is bought every year through the auction, the auction took the electronic channel, the final buyer in the end how much the price, and not open. The industry calls for more transparency and a tendency to sign contracts for oak transactions.