Interview with Paulo Roberto Pupo, superintendent of the Brazilian Association of Mechanically Processed Wood Industries (Abimci)

How does Abimci work to foster the use of timber in different markets?

The Brazilian Association of Mechanically Processed Wood Industries (Abimci) works at a national and international level on behalf of  the industrial timber sector, developing technical regulations and quality certification, promoting commerce for Brazilian wood products and stimulating sustainable business practices.

Our actions include: coordinating the ABNT Brazilian Timber Committee (CB-31), responsible for studying, reviewing and creating technical norms for wood products – which contributes to access to new markets; product regulation and standardization; participation in local and international events to promote the institution and commerce of Brazilian wood products; mutual cooperation deals with institutions in different countries with the goal of creating strategies capable of driving international business; and more.

Moreover, Abimci is present as a sector representative in different fronts, such as our participation in national business associations, which have been working to drive the economic development of our country, providing better access to credit to increase demand and domestic consumption and thus drive our economy. The Association’s representation in these groups increases the reach of the forestry sector’s voice and sheds a light on the setbacks that still block further growth and business generation.

Abimci represents several segments in the mechanically processed timber industries. Recently, the Association opened a specific Committee for pellets and biomass. What are the demands of that sector?

Abimci’s new Sectorial Committee – Pellets and Biomass – oversees one of the markets with the largest growth potential and market diversification. Many producers were already Abimci associates, but new companies have joined us due to the sector’s current demands and the credibility they saw in the Association as an institutional representative and a discussion forum.

The goal of the Committee is to discuss strategies to face the market’s main bottlenecks, such as the representation of the sector and the need for developing a specific technical norm for the segment, as the product aimed at the domestic market is still not regulated. Currently, the main market for pellets is agribusiness, especially aviculture, but there is a high potential for growth in other markets.

The technical norm for building timber houses in Brazil is well under way. What is the real potential of our country for the use of timber in civil construction?

We have enormous potential for the use of timber in civil construction in Brazil, mainly due to the country’s housing deficit. The technical norm for Buildings in Light Wood Framing, which is being rigorously developed with the participation of all those interested in the topic, foresees technical requirements for construction with wood frame technology up to two floors.

After the technical norm is published, we expect governmental housing projects and other financial agents to include this new option in their credit lines, thus establishing a business environment for wood products.

However, it’s worth stressing that the work doesn’t end when the technical norm is published. All those involved will need to make great effort to raise awareness about the norm after it is published. But we do believe that the technical norm will be a watershed moment for the timber market.

A window of opportunity will be opened not only for the production of wood panels for wood frame construction, but for the entire supply chain, which is quite extensive. The sawn wood, doors and flooring industries, as well as all segments working with processed timber, may benefit directly from this movement in civil construction.

What logistic or bureaucratic setbacks hinder exports? How to solve them?

Among the priority actions defended by Abimci, included in the 2019 Market Study, which will be published in September, is the defense of the industrial timber sector, which includes a specific point on logistics and infrastructure.

We’ve been working, for example, with government institutions on themes such as the improvement of legal security and governance in infrastructure, the creation of a long term investment plan for improving the country’s logistics infrastructure and the diversification of our transportation networks, as well as support for privatization in infrastructure.

Specifically when it comes to our harbors, the main route for our export flow, demands include the strengthening of established infrastructure, a need for increasing the efficiency of services for cost reduction, improving regulatory actions and support for the National Agency of Waterway Transportation’s norms and greater transparency in the pricing of container transportation.

When it comes to the Association’s contribution to a better performance of Brazilian timber exports, Abimci defends a clear incentive policy and strategic actions to improve international commerce. In order to do that, we’ll need to improve and create new mechanisms to finance exports, increase the efficiency of our customs procedures, review and apply commercial defense mechanisms for Brazilian products, and conclude bilateral agreements that are indispensable to Brazil, among other actions.

Abimci will once again be an exhibitor at the Lignum Latin America fair, a meeting point for the timber sector. What are your expectations?

Abimci has supported the International Timber Week since its first edition, as we believe in the relevance of such events for the development of the forestry chain and the strengthening of the entire sector. For the Association, participating in Lignum is a way of recognizing all the work that’s been done by the event organizers in establishing strong links between the different players in the forestry market.

We’re optimistic regarding this edition of the fair, as it will be a great opportunity for us to evaluate our next steps, as well as welcome in our own stand the main decision makers from our associate companies, and also find out what the other exhibitors are bringing to the sector.