Table of Contents Hide
- One of the Leading Economies in the World: Wood Economy
- The Countdown: Top 10 Furniture Exporting Countries
- 1) China – 39%
- 2) USA – 12%
- 3) Germany – 5%
- 4) Italy – 4%
- 5) India – 4%
- 6) Poland – 3%
- 7) Japan – 2%
- 8) Vietnam – 2%
- 9) United Kingdom – 2%
- 10) Canada – 2%
- Types of Wood around the World
- Looking at the Tree of Life: The Ancient Symbol of the Universe
- Endemic and Ingenious Types of Trees around the Globe
- The Bottom Line
By simply looking around ourselves we can immediately see that we are surrounded by furniture. The tables we dine at, our work desks, wardrobes, drawers, nightstands, sofas, chairs, armchairs – and that’s only a tiny example of the power of the woodworking economy.
What about the use of wood for the construction of bridges and buildings? Nonetheless, we shouldn’t forget to think about wood as one of the renewable sources of fuel we have available on Earth.
Did you know that approximately 54.2 million people are involved in the woodworking industry?
Moreover, according to an analysis published by the World Bank Group, the timber sector contributes to 1% of the Gross Domestic Value. In numbers, this equals about $600 billion of worth to the global economy.
Surprisingly, the woodworking economy is somehow left in the shadows of publicity. Thus, little is being said and commented on the impact of this extremely important sector for society. However, the situation is quickly changing.
The disastrous consequences of the rapid climate changes put forestation issues at the very center of the media, governments, and public opinion focus. Certainly, the battle with deforestation has started many years ago.
One beautiful example dates back to 2013 when celebrities worked together to raise $1.6 million to save orangutan forests in Borneo from a chopping block.
Nowadays, we don’t simply need to educate our children on the impact and specifics of the wood economy better. What’s more, we need to take our personal responsibility. One of the ways to do so is by supporting local manufacturers who obtain timber following a strategy for the sustainable future of the forests.
Below, we will head on a countdown of the top 10 exporters of furniture in the world. But before we dive into the compilation, we will first take a closer look at the very term “wood economy.”
One of the Leading Economies in the World: Wood Economy
For starters, wood is the very first source of energy known and utilized by the humankind. Thus, many years before working with metal was an option, our ancestors relied heavily on wood.
Nevertheless, rubbing 2 dry wooden sticks is one of the oldest methods of starting a fire, dating all the way back to the era of early humans, also referred to as cavemen.
However, it’s important to mention that banging 2 stones together precedes utilizing wooden sticks for starting a fire.
On another note, the term wood economy encompasses a very long cycle of using wood in various ways. These include building purposes but also utilizing cellulose in order to make paper.
Nevertheless, the process of utilizing wood can reach all the way to fertilization. What’s more, wood material makes a superb fertilizer as it is entirely organic.
From builders through carpenters and joiners, the chain of people involved in the wood industry is of great significance to providing a huge amount of the jobs available worldwide.
To illustrate this, based on 2017 statistics by the Statistics Portal, a total of 937 500 people were involved in the forest product industry that includes the making of wood products, forestry, and logging, as well as pulp and paper production.
The Countdown: Top 10 Furniture Exporting Countries
According to a study conducted by the Centre for Industrial Studies – the World Furniture Outlook Edition 2017-2018 –
“the bulk of international trade of furniture originates in China, Germany, Italy, Poland, and Vietnam and goes to the US, Germany, the UK, France, and Canada.”The World Furniture Outlook Edition 2017-2018
As a sum up the World’s Richest Countries targeted research for 2017 reveal that Asian furniture exporters reached $39.5 billion worth.Meanwhile, European furniture exporters are set at $34.4 billion worth.
On another note, the North American furniture exporters – USA, Canada, and Mexico – exported 6.9 billion worth furniture.
Latin America and Caribbean exporters, namely Brazil, El Salvador, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, Peru, Panama – exported $715 million worth.
Interestingly, Bermuda, Seychelles, Cambodia, Cayman Islands, and the Cook Islands are the top 5 countries that have shown the fastest growth in sales from furniture exporting for the last 5 years.
Another intriguing tendency is the fact African furniture export is estimated at $539.3 million worth. That’s more than the worth of Oceania furniture export – $88.3 million, as well as Middle Eastern exporters worth of $475.7 million.
Nikki Dunne, University of Natal, Durban has published a paper named International Trends in the Timber Furniture Industry and the Implications for South African Furniture Exporters. Based on data by the Southern African Customs Union, South Africa ranked 24th at the list of exporters in 1995, after jumping high from its previous position at the 36th place in 1989.
1) China – 39%
Certainly, China’s massive production capacity makes it a logical winner at number 1 in the top 10 furniture export countries.
However, researchers are pointing out to the fact that China’s furniture exporting potential has been going down from 2016.
And while it is still impossible for any other country to reach China’s first position on this list, changes are inevitably on their way.
2) USA – 12%
Despite the fact USA ranks after China on this list there is a reason we may look at the second position from a different angle.
While China’s export and import potential is huge, the United States of America has been steadily nurturing a very stable wood economy, especially when it comes the furniture market.
What’s more, America’s furniture export sector keeps growing. Fortunately, the awareness over the impact of climate changes and the intricate role of timber exploitation by the industries is also rising.
3) Germany – 5%
Interestingly, Germany and Italy seem to go hand in hand when it comes to the contribution of countries from the European Union and the global furniture export trade.
Research varies, too, and according to different experts, the numbers brought by the 2 countries are very similar. For instance, according to European Statistics (Eurostat), in 2016 Italy was ahead of Germany with furniture exported $4.3 billion worth. Meanwhile, Germany’s export rate in the same year was $3 billion
4) Italy – 4%
Italy has a long history of furniture production and export. But what’s more, Italy’s export potential (export value) is estimated to keep expansively growing all the way up into 2020.
Much like the delicious Italian cuisine, Italian furniture has earned a very good reputation. Thus, terms like luxurious, modern design and antique style serve best to describe the way a huge percentage of the end consumers refer to Italian furniture.
5) India – 4%
Indian furniture is truly one-of-a-kind, and it’s no wonder why the export rates are so high. In fact, wood carving has a rich history in India, too.
What’s more, the natives have found a way to keep the ancient traditions alive through the centuries.
Thus, we can enjoy the beauty and talent of Indian wood design crafts such as wooden sofas (takht), inlaid door jambs, handcrafted cupboards (almaris), as well as ornamented swings (jhulas).
6) Poland – 3%
Poland not only ranks at top 3 of the European furniture exporting countries.
Moreover, the wood economy of Poland is one of the fastest growing in the world, based on the number of people working in the industry, as well as the production capacity and potential of the country.
Will furniture expansion in Poland continue? According to the Association of Furniture Manufacturers, growth rates of approximately 10% are expected in 2018.
7) Japan – 2%
Amazingly, Japan ranks among the top 10 furniture exporters in the world, and that is a huge achievement, keeping in mind the small territory of the country.
Nevertheless, the Japanese are putting a lot of effort into expanding the local furniture manufacturing trade globally. To illustrate this, the Japanese Furniture Industry Development Association (JFA) conducts an array of surveys, as well as promotions related to furniture export.
8) Vietnam – 2%
Ranking right next to Japan, Vietnam is also one of the countries that dominate the global furniture export trade and trends.
Unfortunately, the wages of Vietnamese employees involved in furniture manufacturing is much lower as compared to the average wages in the sector in several other Asian countries. However, the Vietnamese government is working towards resolving the issues in the wood industry by signing multiple bilateral, as well as multilateral trade deals.
9) United Kingdom – 2%
Certainly, Britain’s government has done and keep doing a tremendous amount of work in order to keep the country’s position in the world furniture export market high.
Interestingly, according to the British Furniture Confederation, a whopping 78% of the companies in the sector employ less than 10 people. That makes the wood industry intricately related to the development of macro and small businesses, compared to medium to large scale operations.
However, the UK global trade market might be faced with challenges due to the Brexit affair.
10) Canada – 2%
Canada has become a symbol of innovations and freedom, especially after declaring its positions on the legalization of medical and recreational marijuana.
What’s more, Canada has gained worldwide popularity when it comes to the stunning beauty of the natural landscapes. Nevertheless, in 2018 wood export ranks at number 5 in the top 10 of the country’s exports, according to statistics published by the World’s Top Exports.
Types of Wood around the World
Looking at the Tree of Life: The Ancient Symbol of the Universe
One of the most amazing aspects of working with wood is the variety of types of wood that all possess unique qualities. But what’s more, by getting to know more about the local types of wood around the world, we can understand so much about the life and culture of the natives.
Indeed, trees have and always be majestically intertwined with some of our most sacred beliefs. Thus, the Tree of Life can be found in many of the civilizations around the world, going all the way through Ancient Iran, China, Mesopotamia, Europe, and North America, to name a few.
Whether it comes to Hinduism, Buddhism or Christianity, there are no boundaries as far as the significance of the tree as a sacred symbol of life is concerned.
Nevertheless, thinking in terms of sustainability in the wood economy, the use of local types of wood becomes a bridge to the cultural inheritance of each country rather than simply a means to produce more, and of course, earn more.
Endemic and Ingenious Types of Trees around the Globe
In the near future, crafts like Kashmir wood carving in India, for example, will slowly and surely receive the full respect they deserve.
That’s especially relevant since nowadays a lot of the master wood carvers keep working very hard to make a living from something that is actually a high form of art and national craft rather than simply a small business.
It takes years to master the secrets of working with a particular type of wood to perfection.
In fact, if we get to look at famous wood carvers such as Ernest Mooney Warther, who specialized at working with ebony and walnut, each type of wood requires a certain set of skills to work with. Hence, working with a limited number of types of wood can make up for a deeper understanding of the material.
For instance, Brazil is famous for Brazilwood which is one of the biggest sources of red dye globally. Unfortunately, Brazilwood is currently listed as one of the endangered species.
On the other hand, Douglas fir is one of the native trees in the USA and Canada that is characterized by tremendously fast growth within a very short period.
Next, Cuba and Honduras are re-known as the homelands of one of the most precious types of Mahogany which display a one-of-a-kind reddish sheen after polishing.
Meanwhile, Italy is the home of the so-called Mediterranean pine. Interestingly, the cones of the Mediterranean pine are also used in the making of Christmas decoration, too. What’s more, pine nuts can be added to the notorious Italian pesto sauce.
Nevertheless, some trees have also become national treasures. One beautiful example of such a phenomenon is General Sherman – the giant sequoia located in the Sequoia National Park in California. General Sherman is considered the biggest living tree on the planet.
The Bottom Line
Wood has, is, and will remain one of the most important materials known to humankind. Indeed, the woodworking economy is set to keep growing in the future.
Fortunately, this means that more people can get involved in the sector which will help to increase employment rates and fight poverty worldwide. Most noteworthy, big efforts are being put in order to limit deforestation in less advanced countries but also when it comes to developing the furniture exporting potential of the same countries.
But instead of looking at the wood economy as merely a business, we must not forget that trees are actually living beings.
What’s more, scientists have proved that trees have advanced ways of communicating with each other. A beautiful example of this communication is the so-called crown shyness phenomenon. It refers to the distinct “personal space” that big trees leave between each other’s crown systems in order to avoid competing for light.
Living in the 21st century has put a huge responsibility on our shoulders from a global perspective. The conscious choices we make today will shape the future of the next generations to come. The time to act is NOW because our Planet Earth needs us more than ever.
In a revolutionary speech at the UN Climate Change Conference, 15-year-old Greta Thunberg touched the hearts of thousands of people
“You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes.”Greta Thunberg
It’s high time we understand that the actions (or inactions) we choose to take today will determine our world’s tomorrow.
We hope that our compilation of the top 10 furniture exporters in the world will pinpoint the countries that have to keep developing a sustainable strategy in the usage of wood as a resource. Only together we can pave the path to global environmental awareness, as well as wise and respectful exploitation of all the invaluable resources provided by Mother Nature.