B.C. seeks to diversify Asia wood exports

Market strategy in China and Japan involves promotion of more advanced wood frame technology

Forests Minister Steve Thomson (right) is shown insulated structural panels made with B.C. oriented strandboard and lumber

B.C.’s annual forest products trade mission to Asia is finding slower growth in the Chinese market, but increasing use of higher-value products such as oriented strandboard.

Forests Minister Steve Thomson and 25 B.C. forest products executives are visiting Shanghai and Beijing this week, after a stop in Japan to meet with government and industry officials. Thomson signed letter of intent with China’s Zhejiang province to develop wood frame building, in a rapidly urbanizing country that has traditionally used concrete.

In a phone interview from Shanghai, Thomson said while economic growth in China has slowed, it is still far ahead of North American rates, and Zhejiang province expects a 12.5 per cent increase in wood construction in the coming year.

China still imports mostly lower-grade B.C. lumber to use for concrete forms and interior walls of its sprawling urban apartment blocks, but new construction techniques are catching on. The group toured a resort project using foam-insulated panels made from oriented strandboard and lumber supplied by B.C. producers Ainsworth Lumber, Tolko Industries and Weyerhaueser.

“That’s a building system that was pioneered in Canada,” said Rick Jeffery, CEO of the Coast Forest Products Association. “Not only were they using our technology, they were using our OSB and our dimension lumber.”

Jeffery said Chinese builders and furniture manufacturers are also using more coastal products, including red cedar and higher-grade hemlock.

In Japan, Thomson spoke to an industry conference to assure delegates that B.C.’s pine beetle epidemic has not led to a shortage of high-grade lumber that has been long favoured by Japanese buyers.

Japan has adopted a “wood first” construction policy similar to B.C.’s, which has led to increased wood construction in a country still recovering from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in the Fukushima region.

Thomson said Japan has 420,000 seniors waiting for spaces in elder care facilities, and wood construction is being offered as a faster and greener way to meet that demand.

He expects B.C. export sales to Japan this year to match or exceed the $700 million total for 2012, and also an increase in the $1.1 billion total sales to China recorded last year.

The Canadian and provincial governments have been financing demonstration wood projects for several years in both countries, sharing the cost with industry to showcase the benefits.

In Japan, the B.C. delegation visited a public market and library built near the Fukushima earthquake zone, and signed an agreement for a third facility for people left disabled by the disaster.

 

Just Posted

Maple Ridge chef tops in B.C. for agriculture in the classroom

Chef Brian Smith named the B.C. Agriculture in the Classroom Teacher of the Year

Flames drop to eighth in PJHL

Ridge loses two games over the weekend

Man known to frequent Maple Ridge wanted by Langley RCMP

An arrest warrant is out for Bryce Telford for allegedly impersonating a police officer

New Maple Ridge council has old problem: Albion flats

Staff asking for politicians to decide direction

Canada’s archive buys rare book that hints at Nazi plans for North America

The 1944 book may have served as a blueprint for a Nazi purge

B.C. hospital apologizes for veteran’s five-day hallway stay

Clinical director of Victoria General Hospital says case of retired veteran ‘definitely excessive’

Speaker Darryl Plecas says ‘justice’ needed for legislature employees

Plecas spoke to media at the opening of a pedestrian and cycling bridge in Abbotsford Wednesday

Advocate hopes B.C. legislature scandal leads to more transparency

‘Depressing’ that it takes a scandal to inspire freedom of information reform, says Sara Neuert

‘Dr. Lipjob’ avoids jail, gets 30-day suspended sentence

She will have to serve the 30 days in prison if she commits a breach during her two-year’s probation

Ex-Mountie involved in Taser death at Vancouver airport sues government

Kwesi Millington claims he acted in accordance with RCMP training

47 men arrested by Vancouver police for allegedly seeking sex with teenage girls

Seven of those arrested have been charged as part of a two-month operation

Surrey farmers taking stock of revamped Canada Food Guide

Products that were once big at the table — like meat and dairy — have been put on the back-burner

Surrey Pretrial inmate lodges human rights complaint for not being fed kosher food

Inmate claims denial of her request for kosher diet violates Section 8 of the Human Rights Code

Most Read