Local woodworking sector struggles against imports — JCI

Foreign products account for 43% of Jordan’s woodworking and furniture market, says report

stack wooden planks sawmill lumber yard
Sawmill lumber yard with stacks of wooden planks. (Photo: Freepik)
AMMAN — Jordan's woodworking and furniture sector is grappling with a lack of protection against foreign imports, which have reached significant levels despite the competitiveness of local products in terms of quality and prices, according to the Jordan Chamber of Industry (JCI).اضافة اعلان

According to a report carried by the Jordan News Agency, Petra, foreign products make up 43 percent of the country's furniture and woodworking market, posing a major challenge to the competitiveness of the national product both locally and regionally.

Potential for growth in foreign markets
Woodworking and furniture manufacturing are vital industrial sectors in Jordan, closely linked to the construction and urban sectors. Their products are utilized in restaurants, hotels, schools, hospitals, and various economic activities.

The sector, known for its high productivity and skilled labor, employs 8,500 workers, with the majority being Jordanians, constituting over 90 percent of the total workforce. There are 2,140 establishments spread across the Kingdom, with an investment volume of nearly JD300 million.

In terms of productivity, the sector is recognized as one of the leading industries, characterized by high added value and skilled labor with artistic and creative abilities. It contributes around JD321 million to the total industrial production in Jordan, with an added value accounting for 40 percent of the total production.

Exports from the woodworking and furniture sector reached approximately JD34 million in 2022, contributing 0.45 percent to the Kingdom's total industrial exports. The sector's products reached more than 70 countries worldwide, encompassing over 60 different product types.

Among the top importers of Jordanian furniture products, Saudi Arabia ranked as the largest, accounting for 31.7 percent, followed by Iraq with 13 percent of the sector's total exports.

Challenges faced
The report emphasized that the woodworking and furniture sector is predominantly composed of craft-based establishments, with over 95 percent falling into this category. Skilled labor plays a crucial role, characterized by high skills, precision, and creativity, contributing to the sector's excellence and enhanced competitiveness in local and international markets.

The furniture industry in Jordan has grown from small workshops to large-scale production facilities that cater to a significant portion of the local market's needs and export markets. It is also interconnected with other sectors, providing a rich environment for investment and entrepreneurship. Additionally, the sector utilizes high-quality wood and raw materials, enabling Jordanian products to enter the export market.

However, the sector faces various challenges, including issues with importing raw materials, insufficient resources to support the production process, and high production costs, particularly energy expenses, which account for 60 percent of the sector's total production volume.

Other challenges include the absence of financing programs and incentives specifically targeting the sector, as well as the lack of advanced marketing and promotion programs and systems. These factors significantly limit the product's access to international markets, alongside complexities related to registration and multiple regulatory authorities.

Potential for growth in foreign markets 
Despite these challenges, the report also identified untapped export opportunities for the sector, estimating their value at around $31 million in various countries worldwide.

North America, in particular, has emerged as a promising market for Jordan's woodworking and furniture sector, offering clear export opportunities. The demand for high-quality and distinctive furniture designs in North America presents a significant avenue for Jordanian exporters to capitalize on.

To effectively penetrate foreign markets, the report recommends that Jordanian furniture manufacturers explore partnerships and collaborations with local distributors and retailers. Establishing strong networks and distribution channels will facilitate the introduction of Jordanian products to a broader customer base.

Additionally, the report emphasizes the importance of participation in trade exhibitions and specialized fairs focused on furniture and interior design. These platforms can showcase the sector's capabilities and attract potential buyers.

Addressing the challenge of high production costs is crucial. The report suggests exploring renewable energy options and implementing energy-efficient practices to reduce costs and enhance the sector's competitiveness in the global market.

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