B.C. lumber trade delegation tours Matsudo elderly care home in Tokyo

Forest trade mission finds Asian headwinds

With Japan slipping back into recession and sales down in China, B.C. forest companies push for more wood construction

Forests Minister Steve Thomson is leading the B.C. industry’s annual trade mission to promote lumber sales in Asia this week, with a focus on maintaining sales in a soft market.

Accompanied by more than 30 executives from B.C. forest companies, Thomson started the trip Monday with a visit to Japan’s largest-ever wood building, an elderly care facility under construction in Tokyo. The visit comes as Japan’s economy is slipping back into recession.

Japan has been a major lumber customer for B.C. since the 1970s, and is the third largest buyer behind the United States and China. So far this year, sales volume to Japan is down, but value is up slightly to $556 million, in a market known for demanding high-grade wood.

The next stops are Dalian and Beijing, China, which is B.C.’s biggest recent success story with sales that topped $1 billion last year for mostly lower-grade lumber. So far in 2015, sales to China are off 11 per cent from the same time last year as the world’s most populous country struggles to maintain economic growth.

In an interview as he prepared to leave, Thomson said B.C. lumber producers are faced with slow sales in Asia and a decline in timber supply for standard lumber in the wake of the pine beetle epidemic. After years of promotion, B.C. has reached 43 per cent of all China’s imported lumber, over competitors including Russia, Australia and New Zealand.

“One of the focuses of the mission is to move the product up the value chain, particularly in the China market, because as you look to supply limitations, you want to make sure you get maximum value out of it,” Thomson said. “So it’s important to move up into the mid-rise multi-family construction, infill partition walls, hybrid construction, that aspect of it.”

Along with the industry and the federal government, B.C. has promoted wood construction as a green and earthquake-resistant alternative to concrete, the building standard in China.

Susan Yurkovich, named president of the Council of Forest Industries in June, is making her first official visit to Asia. COFI represents B.C.’s biggest lumber producers, including Interfor, West Fraser, Weyerhaeuser, Conifex, Domtar, Gorman, Dunkley, Babine Forest Products and Canfor.

Yurkovich said member companies have meetings lined up with Asian buyers, and she wants to spread the word that B.C. is a reliable supplier of lumber from sustainably managed sources.

B.C.’s top five lumber customers by volume are the U.S., China, Japan, Taiwan, Philippines and South Korea. With the Canada-U.S. softwood lumber agreement having expired, participants say diversifying B.C.’s lumber market is more important than ever.

 

Just Posted

Opinion: The Second Street development might be a problem – but it’s not council’s problem

Reporter Kate Saylors writes about the common misconception surrounding a BC Housing development.

What’s happening for Family Day in the Boundary

Activities in and around Grand Forks offer something for everyone.

Call a foul on cancer with the Pink Whistle Campaign

Local basketball referees are raising money for cancer research

Petition on Second Street project presented to council

Over 1,000 signatures were gathered, but staff say council can’t do much about the project.

Have an escape plan, meeting place in event of fire

Grand Forks Fire/Rescue offers tips to keep your family prepared.

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

B.C. VIEWS: Power politics wins over rational energy policy

B.C Hydro continues to face interference on rates

PR firm suspends contract with former B.C. premier amid groping accusation

Edelman says in a statement that Campbell has served as a special adviser to the firm since last July

James says B.C. budget puts priorities on NDP’s poverty, environment plans

She said she expected the government’s poverty reduction and climate change strategies to be priorities in the budget

PHOTOS: Day 1 of the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer

Games kicked off in Red Deer this week

Ammonia leak shuts down curling club in Nelson

It’s not yet clear when the leak was detected

Pavelski’s 31st goal helps Sharks top Canucks 3-2

Vancouver one point out of second NHL wild-card spot

East Kootenay illicit drug overdose deaths lowest in B.C.

Local expert credits harm reduction efforts; declares support for legalization of opioids

Most Read