American Softwoods Holds Two Training Seminars in Egypt
In early October, American Softwoods held two seminars in Cairo and Alexandria to increase awareness and demand for U.S. wood products. Egypt is currently the largest market for American softwood in the Middle East/ North Africa region. The Emerging Markets Program identified sales potential to Egypt of 100,000 cubic meters or $32 million. In an effort to make this target a reality, the recent seminars educated the Egyptian importing and furniture trade about the benefits of American softwoods.
At the beginning of the trip, American Softwoods representatives met with Foreign Agricultural Service staff at the U.S. Embassy for a briefing on the Egyptian economy. Economic growth is good, at around 5-6% per year. Other discussion topics included new cities that are currently being planned, and whether it might be easier for Egyptian furniture manufacturers to sell into the American market if they were using American softwoods.
The first seminar took place in Cairo. Southern Forest Products Association Deputy Director Eric Gee gave an introduction to the technical and commercial benefits of Southern Yellow Pine, emphasizing SYP’s strength, durability, and sustainability. He also provided an explanation of the main SYP grades available for export. Additionally, Eric provided attendees with the basics of lumber grading and an overview of size categories. As in previous years, there were several questions about pitch pine and whether SYP is pitch pine. It was explained that while technically pitch pine is a different species, SYP is commonly referred to as pitch pine in Egypt. Following Eric’s presentation, Nick Clark of NC Designs spoke about how he came into the furniture and design business and detailed a variety of ways in which he selects and works with wood in his projects. While Nick’s presentation included SYP, it also featured a variety of western species, providing balance to the seminar and demonstrating that American Softwoods encompasses more than just SYP.
The presentation format for the Alexandria seminar was largely the same as in Cairo. Representatives noted that perhaps too much time was dedicated to the technical aspects of SYP and wood science in Cairo, so this was adjusted down for the Alexandria seminar. Attendance at both seminars was good, with 51 attendees in Cairo, and 47 in Alexandria. Questionnaires were provided to all attendees on their opinions towards U.S. Softwoods and interest in beginning/increasing purchases of material as a result of the seminars. SFPA Members can view the complete questionnaire response summary within the Members Only section of SFPA.org.
Overall, representatives determined from conversations with delegates at the two seminars that the wood industry in Egypt welcomed the fact that American Softwoods was showing a genuine interest in the Egyptian market.
SFPA Members can view the complete report and contacts within the Members Only section of SFPA.org.
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