Potential European Markets for West Virginia Hardwoods
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The West Virginia hardwood industry has great potential for growth in the 1990's. The 1980's saw a renewed interest in this industry and a resurgence in hardwood production. Gross revenues from hardwood sales reached an all time peak of $1 billion in 1987 and, although this number has dropped slightly, there does not seem to be any indication of a slowdown in the hardwood industry. The growing tree stock West Virginia exceeds the removal rate by a higher percentage than the national average and, therefore, is not facing any serious ecological problems due to the removal of trees. This has been a major factor in the growth of West Virginia's hardwood industry. The tremendous growth of the 1980's was also aided by the development of the hardwood export industry. Primarily, these exports focused on Japan which now has one of the highest demands for imported hardwoods in the world. However, now that West Virginia's entrance into the Japanese market has been established, it is time to look to the next market which has great growth potential in the 1990's - The European Community. This paper first gives a brief overview of the u.s hardwood industry trends throughout the 1980's. I feel it is very important to get a complete look at what factors have affected the hardwood market in the past in order to recognize indications of changes which might occur in the future. The top twelve hardwood import markets and the reasons for their strong demand are also highlighted. Next, the paper focuses on The European Community, the factors which will be affecting their hardwood import markets, and the top eight countries with the greatest growth potential. For the most part, these factors will be related to economic fluctuations between the E.C. and the U.S., ecological and preservationist movements, and the political and economic changes which will need to be made in order for E.C. 1992 to become a reality. Section IV looks at the West Virginia hardwood industry of the 1980's and the chances that West Virginia will have in competing for the European Markets in the 1990's. It also highlights some of the advantages and disadvantages that we might have over our competitors. I was not able to gather enough information for Section V to go as in-depth as I would have liked to. Therefore, it is rather general in giving suggestions on preparing for European trade shows. However, I feel the trade shows that I have recommended are some of the best in Europe and would be well worth attending, not necessarily as an exhibitor but at least to talk with some of the people in the industry and get a real sense of the market. The last section points out two important aspects on gaining entrance into the hardwood market of the E.C. They are the need to begin now (of which I cannot stress the importance enough), and the need to be flexible and ready for change. There is also a word of caution in that the E.C. market, like any other. is not one without risks. The reduction of trade barriers between the twelve countries will greatly increase intra-European trade. There are not sufficient timberlands throughout Europe to completely keep the U.S. from entering the market, but it does lessen the potential growth for American hardwood exporters if the markets are not looked into right away.