BC Ministry of Forests trade mission to Asia beginning Wednesday

Srushti Gangdev / December 4, 2018

BC Forest minister Doug Donaldson will be leaving Wednesday for a ten-day trade mission to Korea, Japan and China to encourage BC wood exports.

Korea may soon be using BC wood in its buildings for seismic upgrades, according to the provincial Ministry of Forests.

Forests Minister Doug Donaldson said in a press conference Tuesday that the seismic upgrades will form one of BC’s main focuses in a trade mission to Asia. He said Korea in particular is looking at wood and lumber that can withstand earthquakes, and BC has engineered wood that can do so.

The trade mission, beginning Wednesday, will visit cities in Korea, Japan and China — some of BC’s biggest buyers for wood.

He said the value of wood exports to the three countries last year was about $2 billion — but the volume of exports has gone down from previous years.

“The volumes to some of the countries we’ll be visiting are down this year to date compared to last year. The value of those exports are not down as much as the volume, so that shows we’re expanding into value-added areas. It is a concern, because China’s a valuable market especially, and Japan as well, and Korea as well.” — Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development

Donaldson said the countries are moving away from buying less expensive wood used for construction, and instead are purchasing higher-quality BC wood that could be used for what he called “added-value applications”.

“There’s been a real shift from less valuable wood that really sustained us through the 2008-2009 downturn in the US housing market. The less valuable wood I’m referring to is the mountain pine wood that was a big export component of what we shipped to China and it was used in forms, mainly, in construction for concrete forms. Now we’re moving into more housing applications, there’s a large roofing contract that we’re going to be visiting, and those kind of added-value applications more so than simply forms for concrete.” — Doug Donaldson, Minister of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development

Donaldson said the BC envoy has about double the number of First Nations representatives as last year, including leaders from northern First Nations and representatives from provincial First Nations forest councils.

He said the trade mission will visit eco-friendly cities in China, and discuss building code expertise that allows for higher, taller wooden structures with Chinese engineers.

Donaldson said other interested sectors include markets for seniors’ facilities in areas where parents no longer live with their adult children, and tourism markets.