Roundwood Production and Trade

Since teak plantation establishment is relatively recent in most countries outside its natural range, current production of mature teak is largely restricted to the traditional large producers, Myanmar, India and Indonesia (Table 3). Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Trinidad and Tobago and a few other countries produce mature roundwood from plantations. Production of immature round-wood from plantation thinnings, mainly for utilization as posts and poles, is more widespread.

Myanmar - the only Asian producer that allows relatively unconstrained export of teak logs - dominates the export trade in teak logs, while China and Thailand are the two largest importers. The other substantial exporter of teak logs has been Côte d'Ivoire, which until recently excluded teak from its log export ban. Other exporters of teak logs, including several African countries and some Latin American countries (such as Trinidad and Tobago and Ecuador), deal in relatively minor volumes.

TABLE 3. Indicative annual production and exports of teak roundwood and sawn timber (m3)
CountryRoundwood productionRoundwood exportsSawn timber exports
Other countries**
358 000
250 000
750 000
12 900
424 100
1 795 000
179 200
134 300
313 500
33 100
35 000
5 000
14 800
87 900
*This estimate, the most recent for India, dates back to 1970.
**A rough approximation based on a range of diverse sources and estimation methods for each producer country.

Exports of teak sawn timber are mostly from Myanmar and Indonesia, with Thailand and Côte d'Ivoire also exporting significant volumes (Table 3). A range of other countries, including Ghana, China, the United Republic of Tanzania and Ecuador, export more modest volumes. All of India's teak production is processed within the country. India is also a significant net importer of teak, including shipments of logs and sawn timber from Africa and Latin America.

The largest manufacturers of teak products are Indonesia, Thailand, India and China. India produces sawn timber (for construction and decorative uses) and decorative plywood almost exclusively for use in its domestic market. China and Thailand have relatively large teak processing industries based on imported roundwood, while Indonesia processes its own plantation-grown teak. Much of this production is exported to Europe and North America as finished consumer items such as furniture, or as sawn timber, particularly destined for decorative uses, boat building and outdoor applications such as decking. In general, volumes of national imports (and often exports) of teak products are poorly documented or inaccessible.

Thinnings from immature teak plantations comprise a substantial proportion of the production of the "other countries" shown in Table 3. Because of teak's durability much of this production is utilized as posts and poles, although a part also finds its way into higher-value end-uses. For example, Zamora (1998) reports that companies in Costa Rica produce furniture components and small flooring boards from six- to seven-year-old teak thinnings.