Global Opportunities

Why export timber construction products to the UK?

Timber business between UK and Switzerland has improved in recent years and the Swiss Business Hub UK+Ireland is excited to increase opportunities around this uptake. 

Why export timber construction products to the UK

UK has a different relationship to forest and woodland compared to Switzerland. Whereas the latter’s forest covers almost a third of its land mass, only 13% of the UK is woodland. This level of forestation in the UK should be maintained, and by mid-21st century, at least 12% of the land mass will remain covered. This figure comes with great planting expected, signifying the high but limited demand for UK wood. The Government has committed itself to 30,000 hectares per year as a tree planting rate by the end of this parliamentary term (December 2024). That’s a 0.92% increase each year.

Swiss Business Hub UK+Ireland presented “Swiss Competence in Timber Construction” on 26th January at the Embassy of Switzerland in UK. Five Swiss SMEs organized keynotes on fire protection, wood moisture monitoring, UK barriers, design-plan methods, helpful associations, and timber’s future. International attendees and timber construction stakeholders used the opportunity to interact with the speakers and other participants.

There are three important points that, from the Swiss perspective, will contribute to the future of timber construction exports in the UK:

  1. Sustainability
  2. Fire Safety
  3. Macroeconomic conditions

Both UK and Switzerland follows strict UN guidelines, goals and targets on sustainable development regarding the topic of deforestation, and improving information access for the general public. We recognize the fact that sustainable timber construction is timber that is sourced sustainably and renewably. As the Institution of Structural Engineers note: “One of the main drivers for afforestation is increased demand for timber products. Therefore, increasing use of responsibly sourced timber in construction can help to maintain and increase the forest resource.”

Secondly, the UK has a co-operative and international stance on fire safety regulations. UK stakeholders follow a strict objective framework concerning fire safety in alignment with UN Sustainable Development Goals. International Fire Safety Standards, a global coalition of over 80 fire safety leadership organisations launched their new “Decade of Action for Fire Safety 2022-2032” last November. UK economy representatives comprise a significant part of this UN-related coalition.

Finally, the channel of trade to the UK is well established, making it less difficult for SME exporters to join the UK market. The balance of payments for wood between Switzerland and UK has tripled since 2017 and Swiss net exports are worth 24.9 million dollars. In particular, this increase is based on the exports of Fibreboard and other boards like oriented strand board (OSB), which in total account for 23.8 million US Dollars, 95% of Swiss export value to the UK.  Much of this wood has contributed to new flagship buildings in the UK, which mark Swiss competence for the innovation and design of timber construction. For one recent example, the Central Cambridge Mosque, which was completed in March 2019, covers an area over 2300 metres squared, requiring 3000 free-form components, 2000 metres squared of cross-laminated timber (CLT). 30 free-form timber pillars facilitate an interior that can house up to 1000 worshippers. This example of Swiss Competence in Timber Construction in the UK should indicate a growing demand trend.

Individual consultation

Are you interested in the UK market? Contact our consultant for this region in order to discuss the potential of your products and services in this area.

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