Monday, November 9, 2009

Trade Mission a Breakthrough

Trade Mission A Breakthrough

By 250 News

Monday, November 09, 2009 03:59 PM

Prince George, B.C. -

Prince George, B.C.- The current trade mission to China aimed at opening up doors for more B.C. lumber products is being classed as a major breakthrough.

An agreement signed today with the City of Shanghai endorses wood-frame construction for affordable housing, creating an enormous opportunity for Canadian forest products, says Minister of Forests and Range, Pat Bell.

Under the memorandum of understanding, the Government of Canada, through Natural Resources Canada, will contribute $800,000 in 2009-10 to construct a wood-frame demonstration building to showcase the application of wood design and building materials. The Province of British Columbia will manage the project through Forestry Innovation Investment (FII), the province's international marketing agency for wood products. The City of Shanghai will provide land and some building materials.

Minister Bell says it had been expected the exports to China would exceed 1.3 to 1.4 million board feet this year, but he expects that number to be surpassed. “This MOU could easily double the volume of wood moving into the area by itself” says Bell.

"Shanghai is the first city to move ahead with China's affordable housing initiative. By 2012, one in five housing starts will be for affordable housing," said Bell. "By demonstrating how we can help them meet their housing needs, we can tap into the biggest single opportunity the Canadian forest sector has seen."

Shanghai alone is expected to build 20 million square metres of affordable housing space by 2012. Opportunities for wood use include roof trusses, partition walls, in-fill walls, and hybrid construction for mixed-used commercial and residential buildings.

There is good news for the Port of Prince Rupert as well says Bell. The Chinese prefer milled lumber as it is kiln dried and weighs less so ships can carry more of the finished product than they could if it were raw logs. “Moving a thousand board feet of lumber from an average Canfor mill to Shanghai about $60-$65 dollars, that’s the same amount it costs to ship that thousand board feet to Chicago. If you want to move the lumber further down south into the U.S. you’re into 90 plus dollars, so even though we think of the Chinese market as a long distance away, its really a very short distance and its because the sea borne transport is very affordable.”

The mission isn’t all about lumber sales. Minister Bell has meetings planned in Beijing to talk about other opportunities, such as the Worthington MacKenzie mill and the Eurocan Mill in Kitimat.

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