We just finished day three at the Interzum Guangzhou tradeshow in China and it is certainly an experience for any Canadian exporter of wood products. Guangdong province is definitely the central hub for China’s furniture manufacturing industry and the demand for materials is significant. Although the Interzum show revolves primarily around furniture components and manufacturing, most of the major players in China’s wood products industry have made an appearance.
In the past three days, I have met with several Chinese importers of lumber products and it is clear that there is a strong demand for wood products in this market. SPF and Hemlock have emerged as the preferred species to substitute Russian and New Zealand lumber entering China. These products are used for a variety of applications including core material for furniture and as concrete formwork.
With Guangzhou’s prominent furniture industry, there is also a strong demand for hardwood lumber. China’s furniture manufacturing and export industry was hit hard with last year’s economic recession, but it is showing signs of recovery. Competing with Canada is a significant number of both softwood and hardwood suppliers from the United States.
Among Chinese importers and manufacturers, there are several ongoing concerns including the rising cost of domestic labour, increasing prices for ocean freight, fibre supply in British Columbia, and the increasing price of Canadian lumber. Canada has a good reputation in China and is perceived as the one market that can compete with Russia for volume. However, if prices for Canadian lumber matches Russian products, Chinese wood importers will return to that market.
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