- Business - Talking teak: the ban, four months on


Talking teak: the ban, four months on

Four months after the Myanmar ban on the export of teak, speaks to Bob Steber, managing director of Ginnacle Import Export, about the rising prices of teak since the ban and whether shipyards will be able to viably maintain their use of the industry's favourite decking material.…

On 1 April, 2014, the Myanmar ban on exporting teak in the form of round logs entered into force, promising to raise questions as to the availability of the superyacht industry’s popular option for decking material.

With the ban (more information of which can be found in our article here) only entering into force in April, supply is yet to be a problem for the superyacht industry – what is notable, however, is the rise in prices. Bob Steber, managing director of Ginnacle Import Export, told “It’s already happened. The prices are shooting up. I can get teak; the price has jumped but I can still get it. I don’t know how many more years it’s going to be, but there will be a period of time where you can still get teak if you’ve got the money to pay for it.”

However it is likely that with the allowance for just just 80,000 cubic metres of teak round logs to be exported this year – a drop of 20 per cent compared to last year’s approximate harvest and export of 400,000 cubic metres – we can expect demand to outweigh supply to the point of yet more escalated prices. “It’s going to be a struggle,” added Steber. “No matter how much money you’ve got.”

But in a period that continues to be somewhat affected by the economic crisis, with shipyards changing hands and some closing down, industry members may have to look to alternative solutions. “Like so many other things in life, if you’ve got the money you can get it; if you don’t, you can’t. I’m sure there’s going to be people who are going to say, ‘That’s too expensive, I’ve got to find another product’.” This, of course, raises the question of which shipyards will be the ones to dedicate increased funds to the import of teak, allowing them to continue to use it for superyacht decking, and which will strive for cheaper alternatives.

Yet Steber believes that true teak enthusiasts will not let the ban affect them. “For those people who are really aficionados and lovers of genuine teak, you’re not going to change their mind. When you’re making a ship for millions, or hundreds of millions of dollars, a few million dollars extra for a teak deck for somebody that’s got billions in the bank - it’s nothing.”

It’s still early days and we're yet to attain sufficient figures to predict to what extent the Myanmar teak ban will affect the superyacht industry. However, with prices already rising it will certainly be interesting to see if the industry’s collective bank balance will be enough to allow it to continue working with teak in the same way it has in the past, or whether there will be a drive towards finding alternative decking solutions.

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Talking teak: the ban, four months on


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