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Deal to help reforest China
( 2003-11-03 10:11) (Agencies)

China and Washington State's largest timber company signed a forestry agreement on Friday that Governor Gary Locke hopes will lead to closer trade ties.

Jiang Zehui, president of the Chinese Academy of Forestry, and Steve Rogel, chairman, president and chief operating officer of the Weyerhaeuser Co, agreed to collaborate on forestry research and environmental restoration.

Locke, the son of Chinese immigrants, signed the agreement as a witness in Olympia, the Washington State capital.

The pact was the result of talks in China spurred by Locke's visit to Beijing and Shanghai last month.

"This is great news for Weyerhaeuser, for China and for Washington State," Locke said.

The "new era of cooperation and teamwork" will help China reforest broad areas of its countryside, improve the environment and potentially lead to a lucrative trade relationship, the governor said.

He called Weyerhaeuser "the worldwide leader in forestry" and a natural partner for China.

Jiang said Washington companies have flourished in China ever since the country "opened its doors to the outside" in the 1970s.

Weyerhaeuser, Boeing and Microsoft are all household names in China, she said, adding that her favorite forestry professor was educated at the University of Washington.

"Enhanced collaboration" will help both countries, Jiang said.

Weyerhaeuser has container plants in Shanghai and Wuhan that provide packaging for Coca Cola, Budweiser and other Western products that are marketed there. China also imports bleached pulp, such as that used for milk cartons, as well as recycled paper and other company products.

Besides boosting its share of China's growing market, Weyerhaeuser may get contracts to help with reforestation and to grow eucalyptus forests, Rogel said.

Under the agreement, China and Weyerhaeuser will:

- Collaborate on forest management, wood technology and silviculture, including methods of fertilizing, pruning and thinning.

- Research opportunities for eucalyptus forests in southern China, including possible uses for the wood. Weyerhaeuser already has eucalyptus forests in Uruguay.

- Cooperate on product deve-lopment and market assessment.

- Develop ways to reduce sedimentation and improve water quality in China's forests.

Locke said China faces "a tremen-dous challenge" in reforesting massive areas of the country, and developing new forests.

China is the US's second-largest export market, after Japan, with over US$3.5 billion in state imports to China recorded last year. A recent state study ranked China the No 1 future market for Washington.

Weyerhaeuser had US$18.5 billion in sales last year, manages 42 million acres of forest, employs 57,000 people and plants over 140 million trees a year, according to the firm.

After the United States normalized trade relations with China in 1972, Weyerhaeuser was the only US forest products company invited to the Canton Trade Fair. The company opened an office in Beijing in 1984.

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