Babine Forest Products is continuing with its efforts to expand and diversify markets for its products.
Steve Zika, Chief Executive Officer of Hampton Affiliates – company that owns Babine Forest Products and Decker Lake Forest Products – has recently travelled to Asia with a B.C. delegation of over 30 senior executives from B.C. forest companies and associations.
Led by forests minister Doug Donaldson, the delegation visited China and Japan earlier this month.
“The China economy continues to be very strong with additional potential for selling higher value products for furniture and non-residential applications,” said Zika. “The Japan economy is also showing some growth and they purchase our highest quality products from Babine and Decker Lake.”
In China, delegates discussed how B.C. wood products can help the country meet ambitious goals it has set related to prefabrication and green building. They attended the third annual Sino-Canada Wood Conference, which emphasized opportunities for wood in prefabricated construction.
In Japan, the focus was on expanding the use of wood in multi-family and non-residential construction, and new applications for higher-value engineered wood products. Delegates toured a resort construction site in Koyaru, and learned about growing opportunities for B.C. wood in Japan’s tourism sector.
“Both in China and Japan they appreciate missions that include both government and industry working together,” said Zika.
“The mission also represented an opportunity to talk with the new forests minister and the current deputy minister about our business issues,” he continued. “It is exciting to have a forests minister who lives in the north and has a history of positive relations with First Nations; he did a good job on his first trip to Asia and was a good representative of the British Columbia government.”
Northern B.C. sawmills have been facing several challenges, including duties imposed by the U.S. government and an impending reduction in annual allowable cut.
The U.S. Department of Commerce has recently announced its final determination of duties of 20.83 per cent to be applied to the majority of Canadian softwood lumber shipments entering the U.S.
After 2020, the Burns Lake Community Forest and the Chinook Community Forest will represent only a portion of the log supply required to keep Babine Forest Products and Decker Lake Forest Products operating.
Given the current challenges, minister Donaldson says it is critical that B.C. continue to diversify markets.
“We need to continue to diversify and expand markets for B.C. wood products, both at home and abroad,” said Donaldson. “Forestry is one of B.C.’s founding industries, and an important part of a sustainable economy, that in 2016 supported more than 60,000 workers and their families in communities throughout B.C.”
China and Japan are B.C.’s second- and third-largest markets for softwood lumber products. In 2016, B.C.’s softwood lumber exports to China totalled over $1 billion while exports to Japan totalled $725 million.