Recent reports on European economic and construction sector health and outlook make for almost exclusively positive reading. After the EU economy enjoyed its strongest growth in gross domestic product in a decade in 2017, the overviews and forecasts for the first part of 2018 state that not only has expansion continued to date, it is set to persist through the rest of the year and into 2019.
In the Spring 2018 Forecast from the European Commission Directorate General of Economics and Financial Affairs (ECFIN), almost all the EU country summaries are strongly upbeat. The one exception is the UK, with its weaker outlook attributed to a large degree to the political and economic uncertainties surrounding its prospective departure from the EU.
Euroconstruct also stated at its conference in Helsinki in June that European construction was set for continued growth ‘in the next few years’.
“European construction is growing well on the back of low interest rates, good economic growth and pent-up needs,” the organisation stated. “Economic growth is expected to remain solid, unemployment will decrease, exports will grow, interest rates will remain low and the confidence of consumers and business and industry in the future is high.”
It added that increased tax revenues would drive public building and infrastructure projects, and that immigration and the ageing of the population would also likely boost construction.
Against this backdrop, it might be assumed that the tropical sawn hardwood sector would be among those benefitting from higher sales. Certainly the rest of the EU construction products industry is on a strongly upward curve, even in the UK.
Like much of the rest of the sector in northern Europe, businesses were was severely disrupted by poor weather in the first three months of 2018, but the UK Construction Products Association reports a strong quarter two upturn in sales and rising confidence in the country’s £56 billion industry.