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

Maple Ridge car dealership staff pursue man who stole keys

Large police presence after suspect fled through backyards

Letter: Chance for a better life

I live three blocks from the Anita Place camp and have not had any problems with the there.

Jim Robson Road dedication part of Ridge Meadows Minor Hockey celebrations

John Shorthouse will join in 50th anniversary event in Maple Ridge

Untrending: With Facebook changes, what’s a business to do?

Build community by crafting an online challenge that compels action.

In Education: Weeding through post-secondary options

What sets apart universities, colleges, and institutes, aside from the names?

Maple Ridge residents rally against homeless shelter

Say facility is poorly placed near a residential neighbourhood, schools

VIDEO: Thousands join women’s march events across B.C.

Today marks one year since the first Women’s March on Washington

Flames fall to Pilots in overtime

Ridge Meadows still leads conference, with game in hand

VIDEO: Remember the Voyageurs at Fort Langley

Two-day historical festival underway

Two Canadians, two Americans abducted in Nigeria are freed

Kidnapping for ransom is common in Nigeria, especially on the Kaduna to Abuja highway

Are you ready for some wrestling? WWE’s ‘Raw’ marks 25 years

WWE flagship show is set to mark its 25th anniversary on Monday

B.C. woman who forged husband’s will gets house arrest

Princeton Judge says Odelle Simmons did not benefit from her crime

Snow warning in effect for the Coquihalla

A snowfall warning is in effect from Hope to Merritt as slush and snow is expected on highways this weekend

Vancouver hoping free public Wi-Fi expansion will drive tourism dollars

Mayor Gregor Robertson says expansion bolsters its “leading Smart City” status

Most Read