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

Vaping a growing problem in Sooke school district

Island’s chief medical officer raises the alarm

Island Health issues safer drug-use tips ahead of music festival season

Health authority aims to reduce overdose risks at festivals

Fate of accused in Saanich couple’s 1987 killings in jury’s hands

William Talbott’s lawyer says DNA doesn’t prove murder

Victoria woman accesses healing Burn Fund resources 45 years after injury

Stasi Manser was burned when she was five years old and now works as an adult burn survivor advocate

Brentwood Bay fruit stand plundered on first day of season

Leeanne and Jack Guthrie dismayed to find money and fruit stolen from roadside stand

VIDEO: Killer whale steals fisherman’s catch off North Coast

Fishing duel results in eager orca snagging salmon in Prince Rupert

PHOTOS: North Island home gutted in fire deemed ‘suspicious’

No injuries reported; firefighters prevented blaze from spreading

Child killed after being hit in driveway on Vancouver Island

The driver of the vehicle remained at the crash scene and is fully cooperating

Eating sandwiches, putting on makeup behind the wheel could land you a fine

RCMP say if you cause an accident while eating you could be penalized

Cat badly hurt in animal trap was likely stuck for days, B.C. owner says

Blu, a three-year-old house cat, suffered severe damage to his hind leg after being stuck in trap for days

Vancouver Island woman assaulted after confronting thief

RCMP warn residents to call for police assistance

POLL: Do you think the penalty should be increased for tossing a burning cigarette from a vehicle?

With grasslands and forests around Vancouver Island and across B.C. reaching tinder… Continue reading

40 cats surrendered in apparent hoarding at B.C. home

Officers found the cats living among piles of garbage and feces, suffering from fleas

Campers hailed heroes in rock face rescue at Vancouver Island provincial park

The campers quickly noticed the man in distress and jumped into the river to swim across.

Most Read