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

Province announces $23 million for upgrades at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital

West Kootenay-Boundary Regional Hospital District Board has yet to review the provincial proposal

Call a foul on cancer with the Pink Whistle Campaign

Local basketball referees are raising money for cancer research

UPDATE: Two-car accident closes Highway 3A at Thrums

Road expected to open for single-lane alternating traffic at 2 p.m.

Trail Curling Club set for BC senior championships

Volunteers step up for BC Senior Curling championships at Trail Curling Club

Man found dead identified as Andreas Pittinger

Pittinger was known locally for hosting a radio show

VIDEO: Historic night in Red Deer as 2019 Canada Winter Games kicks off

Star-studded Opening Ceremony features athletes from across Canada

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

Names keep adding to vaccine petition started by B.C. mom

Maple Ridge mom started campaign to make vaccination a condition of attending school

Northern B.C. First Nation clan says ancient tools found at pipeline work site

Archeologists from the Smithsonian Institute estimate one of the stones found dates back up to 3500 years

Wilson-Raybould resignation stokes anger, frustration within veterans community

Liberals have had three veterans-affairs ministers — Kent Hehr, Seamus O’Regan and Wilson-Raybould

No Center of Gravity festival in Kelowna this summer: organizers

COG organizers said the hope is to return to the Okanagan in 2020

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Plecas won’t run in next election if B.C. legislature oversight reforms pass

B.C. Speaker and Abbotsford South MLA says he feels ‘great sympathy’ for Jody Wilson-Raybould

Most Read