When Pat Bell, British Columbia’s minister of forests, mines and lands, took office twenty months ago he predicted the province to export four billion board feet of lumber to China in 2011.
“Everyone thought I was crazy,” says the minister.”We will do four billion this year-no question.”
The key driving force has been the eastern country’s appetite for B.C.’s wood.
“Up until recently,China had never been a factor in the equation,” says Bell.
But the entrance of China over the past few years has boosted the province-and Canada’s-lumber sales.
“There are about 8000 people working because of China,” Bell says.
The province itself produces 15 to 17 billion board feet of lumber in a good year. Bell points out that emerging markets have helped to pick up some of slack created by the United States.
OUR SOUTHERN COUSINS
“We have been so dependent on the U.S. market,” says Bell.
In mid-January the U.S. government filed for arbitration under the U.S.-Canada 2006 Softwood Lumber Agreement about British Columbia’s timber pricing policies.