B.C. Forests Minister Doug Donaldson speaks to third annual Sino-Canadian Wood Conference in Shanghai Nov. 12. (B.C. government)

U.S. lumber dispute drives B.C.’s latest trade effort in Asia

Largest forest industry group ever arrives in Shanghai

With no end in sight to the latest anti-trade action by the U.S. softwood lumber industry, the annual B.C. wood products trade mission to Asia this week takes on a new urgency.

Forest Minister Doug Donaldson’s first trip landed in Shanghai on the weekend, with more than 30 forest products executives, making it the largest so far from B.C. Stops in China include Changzhou, Suzhou and Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu province, where the Chinese government is conducting a pilot project to use wood frame and wood hybrid construction in its massive urbanization program.

The Jiangsu project uses wood roof trusses and wood infill walls for concrete buildings, to make them more earthquake resistant and cut down the use of concrete that adds to China’s choking urban smog and greenhouse gas emissions.

The trade mission then moves to Japan, long a customer for high-grade B.C. cedar and other lumber used in modern and traditional post-and-beam construction. Both countries are studying wood hybrid high-rise construction, pioneered in B.C. by Okanagan-based Structurlam.

RELATED: Penticton’s Structurlam continues to rise

“We currently export about a third of our forest products to China and Japan and see more opportunity to grow these markets and to showcase how B.C.’s innovative building materials can help reduce the environmental impact of the built environment,” said Susan Yurkovich, president of the Council of Forest Industries and a veteran of Asia trade missions.

B.C. softwood lumber exports to Japan totalled $725 million in 2016, with more than $1 billion in sales to China the same year.

Negotiations to renew Canada’s expired lumber trade agreement with the U.S. remain stalled, with Canadian officials also grappling with U.S. President Donald Trump’s demand to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. Lumber has never been covered by NAFTA, and the two countries have worked out a series of deals to compensate the U.S. for what it contends is a subsidy produced by selling timber from Crown land in Canada.

B.C. lumber producers were relieved by the latest countervailing and anti-dumping duties imposed by the U.S. government, which were reduced from a preliminary level to a total of nearly 21 per cent for most exports. High lumber prices have offset the impact of the punitive duties on B.C. forest products companies.

RELATED: B.C. mills weather storm of U.S. protectionism

Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr met with provincial officials Friday to discuss the impact of the U.S. action and how to use a $867 million federal program to support affected workers and diversify markets. The U.S. lumber lobby has also attacked that effort, calling it another subsidy to Canadian producers.

Just Posted

Second hockey academy fills up in Maple Ridge

New program at SRT has skills focus

Letters: Grizzly bears are not a food source

Whether or not the grizzly hunt is sustainable is not the issue.

Maple Ridge churches asked to help the homeless

Plan underway to offer overnight shelter to street people

Chilliwack boy drops puck at Canucks fight cancer game

Carter Johnston, 11, fighting osteosarcoma and has a growing, prosthetic leg

Maple Ridge remembers

Remembrance Day ceremony and parade in downtown Maple Ridge.

‘I will now live in consistent fear’: Allan Schoenborn granted escorted leaves

The Merritt man was deemed not criminally responsible in the killing of his three children in 2008

Hammy the deer dodges conservation officers in Prince Rupert

The famous Prince Rupert hammock deer maintains his purple threads

‘No shirt, no service, no Canada’

Shirtless Tacoma man arrested after Canadian border officials say they found meth in rental vehicle

Nasty note on B.C. windshield sparks online outrage

Vernon’s Bailey McDonald is using a painful experience to start conversation about invisible illness

Federal funding to combat guns, gangs and opioid crisis

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said illicit drugs are often main cause of guns, gangs violence

Riverview youth mental health centre proceeds

Replacement for Maples Treatment Centre first announced in March

Dead boy’s father posts Facebook response after Appeal Court upholds conviction

David, Collet Stephan were found guilty in their son Ezekiel’s 2012 death from bacterial meningitis

Pumpkin Cross bike race draws 250 riders

New course for one of Maple Ridge’s favourite sporting events

Most Read