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What is preventing Chinese lumber importers from buying more Canadian wood products? Minister Champagne finds out

Sade Rytkonen

By Sade Rytkonen

Stakeholder Relations Director Canada Wood China & Forestry Innovation Investment Ltd

May 29, 2017

Minister Champagne with delegates and Chinese lumber importers

On April 21st to April 26th, The Canadian Minister of International Trade hosted a 5-day Mission to China, during which the Minister aimed develop both a deeper understanding of the Chinese lumber trade while also advancing trade relations. Canada Wood China participated in part of the program. With the ongoing Softwood Lumber Dispute and increasing protectionist sentiments in the United States, alternative export markets are more important than ever.

The Minister’s first stop was Canada Wood China’s head office Dream Home Canada in Shanghai. After a brief welcome Canada Wood China Managing Director Eric Wong, the Minister hosted a roundtable with Chinese lumber importers. During the roundtable, the Minister was especially interested in understanding the barriers for Canadian lumber: what was preventing importers from purchasing higher volumes of Canadian wood products? The Chinese roundtable participants cited low-tariff substitutes, low supply and fixed dimensions of Canadian lumber, as well as the failure to adopt pro-wood policies on the local level as some challenges for Canadian wood.

The roundtable in Shanghai was followed by a similar event in Chongqing. Once again, he was eager to understand the challenges faced by Chinese lumber importers and end users. During the round table discussion Mr. Meng from Jaz builders highlighted that as labor costs increase, wood is becoming a cost-competitive alternative to concrete. However, he also stressed that China lacks a value chain for wood construction, with the main barrier being the lack of Design Institutes and architects who are familiar with wood.

During both roundtables, Minister Champagne highlighted Canada’s commitment to position itself as a trusted, valued, and long-term partner and underscored the need to cooperate together with our Chinese partners to overcome these challenges.

In fact, Canada Wood China has programs over the past decade have been designed to address many of these barriers: we have worked hard to e.g. gain government recognition of wood, to break through the code, and to develop education programs that help build an awareness and understanding of wood among both professionals in the industry and University students. However, the Minister’s visit serves as a good reminder that while we have made strides in progress, in a country as large as China much work remains ahead of us.

Read more about Minister Champagne’s meeting with Minister Chen Zhenggao of MOHURD.