Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development, and 35 senior executives from B.C. forest companies and associations have concluded their 2019 forestry trade mission to Asia.
The delegation promoted British Columbia’s innovative wood products to the province’s two largest markets outside of North America from Nov. 10-15, 2019.
“Over the past five days, we’ve met with construction, business and association representatives in China and Japan, and Japanese policymakers, to enhance and expand existing and future business opportunities for wood in both markets,” Donaldson said. “What we found were clients and customers that were eager to talk about B.C. and Canada’s high-quality wood products.”
The trade mission, Donaldson’s third, aimed to advance relationships in B.C.’s second- and third-largest markets. B.C. exports 90% of its forest products, with China representing 28% of B.C.’s total forest product exports at over $4 billion. In 2018, B.C. exported approximately $1.5 billion in forest products to Japan, including $845 million in softwood lumber exports.
“The products that are being sold are supporting workers, communities and contractors in rural areas in B.C. and ensure they have jobs and continue to have employment for their livelihood,” Donaldson said.
“This year’s forestry trade mission to Japan and China comes at a particularly important time for the B.C. forest sector and the communities we support,” said Susan Yurkovich, president and CEO, BC Council of Forest Industries. “B.C. producers of wood, pulp and paper products are facing increasing competition from other global suppliers, and that’s why it’s important to continue to demonstrate our ongoing commitment to our customers in these key markets. In partnership with the provincial and federal governments, we continue to work together to promote our low-carbon forest products made from sustainably managed forests.”
Bruce St. John, president of Canada Wood, said, “We continue to promote Canadian forest products and building technologies to China and Japan in order to diversify markets for the Canadian industry. We have seen growing interests and commitment from our partners in using Canada’s innovative building systems and products to help them achieve their companies’ goals and broader environmental objectives.”
In Shanghai, Donaldson and trade mission delegates met with Canadian consulate and federal officials before providing opening remarks. They also presented plaques of recognition at the fifth Sino-Canadian Wood forum, where the theme was Wood in Future Buildings and Manufacturing. The forum is an opportunity for delegates to develop and foster relationships with Chinese businesses and explore additional opportunities for B.C. and Canadian wood applications in China’s massive manufacturing sector, such as furniture making. During his remarks, Donaldson championed the reduced environmental impact of building with wood and wood-frame construction, while encouraging the continued advancement of innovative construction technologies using B.C. and Canadian wood products.
The final stop in China was a site visit to Matechstone Engineering Group’s Rugao Project in Jiangsu Province. Matechstone products include prefabricated wood in-fill walls, including for building envelopes, that save energy and have potential for large applications in China’s construction industrialization. Delegates received a plant and demonstration project tour before meeting with Matechstone officials to express the value of B.C.’s sustainable forest management practices and Canada Wood China’s ongoing commitment to support wood in-fill wall projects, including with expertise.
In Japan, the delegation visited the Japan Home Show, Japan’s signature trade show event for builders and architects, where Donaldson provided opening remarks and presented a plaque to Rinyu Co. for its continued commitment to the western red cedar market in Japan. He had presented Liv Corporation and Yoshitaka Architects with plaques earlier at a Canadian Embassy briefing for leading the commercial advancement of innovative Canadian wood products in non-residential and mid-rise construction. Delegates also toured a full-scale resource and development demonstration centre that showcased Canadian wood in market-building innovations.
Donaldson and trade mission delegates met with Japanese officials from the Japan Forestry Agency and the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transportation and Tourism to encourage progress on mutual efforts to increase mass timber and wood use in construction and policy development.
The delegation ended the trade mission by visiting Sumitomo Corporation, one of the world’s largest trading companies, owner-operator of several power generation plants in Japan and a large shareholder in wood pellet manufacturer Pacific BioEnergy, based in Prince George. Discussions focused on emphasizing B.C.’s commitment to sustainable forest management, fibre supply and access, and continued support for pellet export operations in B.C.