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

Tsunami warning prompts evacuations in Port Alberni

Alaska earthquake prompted warning for coastal BC

UPDATE: Tsunami warning cancelled for coastal British Columbia

Warning issued following 7.9 earthquake off Kodiak, AK

Tsunami warning issued for Coastal B.C.

It is recommended that individuals residing below 20 metres should move to higher ground.

COUNCIL WATCH: Here are some of the stories we’ll be following

Traffic counts, a Nuisance Property Working Group and more at Alberni council meeting

Stakeholders tackle poverty in Port Alberni

Residents invited to share ideas for solution at Tuesday (Jan. 23) meeting

Testing the Google Arts & Culture app

Going face to face with art

‘Shape of Water’ producer, Christopher Plummer among Canadian Oscar nominees

Guillermo del Toro film about merman romance earns 13 nominations

Canada, TPP agrees to revised deal without the United States

Canada and the remaining members of the Trans-Pacific Partnership have agreed to a revised trade agreement

Tsunami warnings 101: Canada

Here are some things to know about tsunami alerts in Canada and how they work

Rogers Media cuts ties with Vice Canada

Rogers Media and Vice Canada are ending their three-year-old partnership, pulling Viceland TV channel off the air

VIDEO: Fuel truck and train collide in B.C. causing massive fire

More emergency crews are still arriving on scene of a massive fire at the Port Coquitlam rail yard.

Back to work: U.S. government shutdown ends after Democrats relent

Short-term spending measure means both sides could see another shutdown stalemate in three weeks

Man lives despite malfunctioning defibrillator at B.C. arena

A middle-aged man went into cardiac arrest after at game at Pitt Meadows Arena last Wednesday.

Most Read