B.C. forest products continue to find a growing market in China as diplomatic tensions with Canada have eased, Forests Minister Doug Donaldson says.
Speaking to reporters from Tokyo on Wednesday, Donaldson said his delegation of 35 forest company executives completed their visit to Shanghai with good trade prospects, after attending the Sino-Canadian Wood Forum. High-grade B.C. wood producers are focused on furniture manufacturers as well as the more established Chinese markets of Whistler-style resort construction and wooden infill walls that reduce the country’s massive use of concrete and improve earthquake resilience.
China and Japan’s forest products markets are more significant than ever as B.C. producers struggle with continued import duties of 20 per cent or more on sales to the U.S., Canada’s traditional number-one market. China currently accounts for 28 per cent of B.C. wood products exports, making it the fourth largest international customer, and Japan is third largest.
The scale of the Chinese construction and urbanization is so vast that its annual floor space construction is equal to 1.4 times the size of Metro Vancouver each year, Donaldson said. On the resort side, five billion Chinese people took a domestic vacation trip in 2018, an 11 per cent increase over 2017.
The 2018 B.C. trade mission to China and Japan came shortly after Canadian authorities detained Chinese telecommunications executive Meng Wazhou for extradition to the U.S. over charges there. The Huawei executive remains in Vancouver on bail as lawyers argue over the extradition application.
Donaldson left last year’s trade mission before it entered China, uncertain over the reception any Canadian politician would receive, as China took two Canadians into custody and began a series of trade sanctions on Canadian farm and other products.
This year the diplomatic tensions have eased and Donaldson said he had a normal reception from industry officials in Shanghai.
One of the mission’s goals in Japan this week is exploring further sales of B.C. wood pellets, as the country struggles to replace its nuclear power generation following the 2011 Fukushima earthquake and tsunami that crippled one of its nuclear power plants.
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