A recent wood products conference in Whistler highlighted something that many people already know — that 2011 has been a watershed year for B.C.’s softwood lumber industry.
At Global Buyers Mission, a three day value-added wood sector marketplace, B.C.’s Jobs, Tourism & Innovation Minister Pat Bell said China has for the first time, surpassed the U.S. as top export market for Canada’s softwood lumber.
For the past five years, B.C. and the provincial forest sector, with the support of the Canadian government, have been actively marketing B.C. wood products to China. And it’s paid off: from January to May, B.C. exported 2.8 million cubic metres to China — more than double last year’s volume. Trade missions, demo buildings, technology transfer and conferences like these, are among projects funded to expand China’s interest in the forestry industry.
Hosted by the non-profit B.C. Wood, at the Whistler Conference Centre, Global Buyers Mission invited qualified buyers at more than 75 companies from Japan, China, Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, India and Malaysia and brought them together with a cross-section of B.C. businesses who work in the value-added sector.
Qing Deng, of Shanghai Green Garden Wood Co, China’s biggest buyer of B.C.’s red cedar, yellow cedar and Douglas fir, was one of many businesses whose hunger for wood could collectively be called voracious.
Speaking through a translator, Deng, whose company imports $5 million yearly, says he only buys from Canada, because this is the only place in the world where this high quality wood is available.
Although the conference is held for the value-added sector, (marketers of log homes, cedar shingles, hardwood flooring, texture-surfaced doors, recycled cedar timber frame, laminated beams etc) it’s the ‘grey area’ exporters who are boosting trade stats selling to China.