China sales boost British Columbia forestry sector

Updated: 2012-02-18 14:46


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VANCOUVER -- British Columbia (BC)'s softwood lumber exports to China jumped 60.8 percent in 2011, topping the C$1 billion mark ($1.004 billion) for the first time, according to the provincial government's statistics.

With C$1.07 billion ($1.077 billion) in lumber sales last year, China surpassed Japan to become the western Canadian province's second biggest buyer of wood behind the United States.

In addition, BC Stats, the statistical agency of the province, reported China purchased C$305.9 million in raw logs last year, up 158.6 percent from 2010.

"Our sales to China continue to be phenomenal and a testament to the enormous amount of hard work that has gone into developing the market for wood in China," said Pat Bell, provincial minister for jobs, tourism and innovation.

"With much of the global market still struggling, it is imperative that we focus on those regions where there is growth, in particular Asia."

Bell, who has made many trips to China, most recently in November, to promote his province's wood products and other natural resources, said that despite the global economic slowdown, softwood lumber exports are expected to grow further as the Chinese government continues building public housing.

Local wood industry analyst Gerry Van Leeuwen, also vice-president of International Wood Markets Group, told Xinhua that China's growing demand has been a very positive thing for BC's forestry sector.

The Chinese market currently accounts for around 40 percent of the lumber products in BC, a province where forests cover about 60 million hectares, an area the size of France.

Overall, according to BC Stats, China purchased C$4.865-billion worth of British Columbia exports in 2011, or 14.8 percent of the province's exports, overtaking Japan as the province's second biggest trading partner for the first time.