B.C. softwood lumber exports to China were worth $1.1 billion in 2012, and the industry is on track to increase both volume and value this year, reports local MLA Steve Thomson, minister of forests, lands and natural resource operations this week from China.
He’s on an Asian trade mission with 25 industry leaders from around the province, but took time out to discuss their successes late Tuesday in a phone call from Shanghai.
In fact, B.C. already has a 53 per cent share of the softwood lumber market in China, he noted, and although growth in China has slowed to seven per cent, he said there’s still a 12.5 per cent increase in wood construction there, in a move away from concrete and steel, toward greener building technologies.
This province can supply high-quality wood products which can’t be found in domestic supplies.
Companies such as Tolko Industries and the Council of Forest Industries, which represents interior forest companies such as Gorman Brothers Lumber, are on the tour with Thomson, meeting with existing customers and showcasing B.C. wood products to attract new ones.
Rick Jeffery, CEO of the Coast Forest Products Association, is one of those accompanying Thomson, and says having the forests minister on the tour attracts potential customers for the industry.
“He’s a great draw. They make time to show up because the minister is there and that gives us a chance to show our products,” he commented from China.
From Shanghai, the tour moves on to Beijing and a meeting of 200 in China’s wood frame construction industry.
The group first toured Japan, which Thomson described as a long-term, high-value market for B.C. wood, worth more than $700 million in 2012.
As that country rebuilds its economy, he said there are many opportunities for B.C. wood, particularly in the non-residential market, such as for resorts and seniors’ housing.
Thomson returns to Canada on the weekend.