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

B.C. boosts 2018 wildfire recovery aid by $10 million

The British Columbia government has allocated an additional $10 million in support… Continue reading

Burns Lake marks 100 years since Armistice

Burns Lake residents on Nov. 11 held a Remembrance Day ceremony at… Continue reading

B.C. Legions in need of young members to continue aiding veterans into the future

Lest we forget what thousands of men and women did to fight for Canada’s freedoms – but without new membership, many Legion chapters face dwindling numbers

North Coast figure skater to star in Dancing On Ice

Carlotta Edwards learned to skate in Prince Rupert, before becoming a star with millions of viewers

Convicted man still not sentenced

A Southside offender, who has been convicted of touching for a sexual… Continue reading

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

Protesters confront Environment Minister in B.C.

Protesters wanting more for killer whales confront Catherine McKenna

Humans reshaping evolutionary history of species around the globe: paper

University of British Columbia researcher had the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society

Toronto ‘carding’ activist Desmond Cole stopped by police in Vancouver

Cole says his experience reveals what daily life is like for black and Indigenous residents

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018

B.C. firefighters rescue horse stuck in mud

‘It happens more often than you’d think,’ says deputy chief

UPDATE: West Fraser to permanently reduce production in Quesnel, Fraser Lake

The move, due to log supply shortages, will affect 75 employees in Quesnel, 60 in Fraser Lake

Canadians more prepared for weather disaster than financial one: poll

RBC recommends people check their bank app as often as the weather app

Most Read