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India Forest Product and Timber Industry

With 1.42 billion inhabitants, India is among the five most populous countries in the world in 2022.

With the world’s fourth largest economy, India’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2022 was $3.469 trillion.  The country has been among the top 10% of the world’s fastest economic growth since 1991, thanks mostly to the services sector, which accounted for 53% of the GDP in 2022, followed by industry and agriculture with shares of GDP of 26% and 20% respectively.  Within the industrial sector, construction appears to be the main driver of growth, with a share of 11% of India’s GDP.  India is expected to become the world’s third largest global construction market in 2030, and the fastest growing as well.

Solid wood products have not been historically predominant in Indian construction.  According to the country’s 2021 census, the use of wood, bamboo and other materials on following was observed in only 3.4% of the households at that time.  Similarly for wall and roof construction, wood and other materials only accounted for 5.4% and 15.58%, respectively.  The materials most widely used in flooring, walls and roofing were burnt bricks (47.5%), mud (46.5%), and concrete (29%), respectively, which are traditionally seen as materials of higher quality than wood, especially for structural applications.

The country’s middle-class growth, along with rising incomes, are changing these views and consumption patterns in favor of imported hardwood and softwood lumber varieties for applications in building projects, particularly for finishing and furniture uses.  This context in combination with India’s latest reforms to its foreign direct investment norms for the construction sector, is expected to boost the housing market and imports of wood products, such as plywood. 

Most of India’s needs for forest products consist of industrial wood products, non-timber forest products and fuelwood.  Other major forest products sectors are saw wood products, wood-based panels, wood pulp, paper and paperboard products.  India’s import of forest products amounted to $666.69 million in 2021.  

India has become one of the top destinations for U.S. forest products in the last 12 years.  Export to this country has grown consistently.  Most of the wood pulp exported to India was supplied by Minnesota, Georgia, New York and New Jersey states.

The growth in this industry makes it very attractive for U.S. exporters.

Products in demand:

•    Solid wood products
•    Paper and paperboard products
•    Wood pulp

For entry into the Indian market, it is preferable for U.S. companies to identify quality partners who know this market.  Strategic planning, due diligence, and consistent follow-ups are the prerequisites for doing business successfully in India.

U.S. companies may consider the following local trade shows to showcase their technologies and meeting Indian companies.

•    WoodTech India, July 14-16, 2023, Chennai
•    Indiawood, February 22-26, 2024, Bengaluru

The experienced U.S. Commercial Service team in India can help your market entry or expansion in the Indian subcontinent.  For further information regarding this sector, please contact U.S. Commercial Service, Ahmedabad.