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China Daily Website

Wood products industry slows

Updated: 2012-11-07 14:01
By Wang Qian (

Although China continues to drive the global wood products industry and trade, it is apparently slowing down its pace.

Pace slowing may indicate coming faster growth with "positive measures under study to boost the country's forestry sector", a senior official in the State Forestry Administration said.

"The authorities are also working out preferential policies to send wood products that are exported to developed economies instead to underdeveloped and developing countries in Africa and Asia, where an increasing demand exists," Zhang Yanhong, deputy director of the agency's department of development planning and assets management, said in the proceedings of the 55th International Convention of Society of Wood Science and Technology in Beijing said.

In the past, US and Japan were the main countries to which China exported forestry products.

She added proper financial and political support will gradually be granted for the country's wood products' trade.

Although no further details were revealed, the coming measures still give many foreign trade business people in the wood industry "a surviving hope", said Wen Huanghao, general manager of Haonan trade company in Fuzhou, Fujian province. His company mainly exports wood products.

In the first half of this year, Wen lost about 20 percent of orders from his old clients in Europe and America due to the gloomy global market. He now dreams of financial support.

Besides raising money for his business, Wen now makes hundreds of international calls every day to find business opportunities in the market in Asia and Africa because the European and US clients are "no longer hungry".

"If the authorities don't give guidance to the wood product trade, many businessmen involved in the import and export of wood products will suffer badly," he said, adding he thinks the current market is gloomier than the previous economic crisis in 2008.

Statistics of the State Forestry Administration show the total volume of exports and imports of wood products from January to June were about 3 percent more than the same period last year, but the growth speed is decreasing dramatically.

Zhang Guolin, chairman of the wooden door committee of the China Timber and Wood Products Distribution Association, said the statistics imply that although the foreign demand for wood products is slowing in growth, especially from US and European countries, the total export volume remains stable and even a little higher than the same period last year.

"As the impact of the eurozone debt crisis continues, the foreign trade businessmen should shift their trade clients from Europe to Africa and Asia to guarantee the country's wood products' sustainable increase because demand in the developing countries is growing rapidly," Zhang said.

But instead of the foreign market, Ivan Eastin, director of the Center for International Trade in Forest Products at the School of Environmental and Forest Science, part of the University of Washington, said China's affordable housing program will be an important driver of the wood products industry.

"Ongoing new home construction, combined with remodeling and expansion projects, will open up tremendous markets for wooden building and home furnishing products," he added.

In 2005, total for the import and export of wood products rose to more than $40 billion. By 2011, the figure had increased to more than $120 billion, putting the country second in the global market, according to the SFA's figures.