B.C. Forests Minister Doug Donaldson speaks to third annual Sino-Canadian Wood Conference in Shanghai Nov. 12. (B.C. government)

U.S. lumber dispute drives B.C.’s latest trade effort in Asia

Largest forest industry group ever arrives in Shanghai

With no end in sight to the latest anti-trade action by the U.S. softwood lumber industry, the annual B.C. wood products trade mission to Asia this week takes on a new urgency.

Forest Minister Doug Donaldson’s first trip landed in Shanghai on the weekend, with more than 30 forest products executives, making it the largest so far from B.C. Stops in China include Changzhou, Suzhou and Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu province, where the Chinese government is conducting a pilot project to use wood frame and wood hybrid construction in its massive urbanization program.

The Jiangsu project uses wood roof trusses and wood infill walls for concrete buildings, to make them more earthquake resistant and cut down the use of concrete that adds to China’s choking urban smog and greenhouse gas emissions.

The trade mission then moves to Japan, long a customer for high-grade B.C. cedar and other lumber used in modern and traditional post-and-beam construction. Both countries are studying wood hybrid high-rise construction, pioneered in B.C. by Okanagan-based Structurlam.

RELATED: Penticton’s Structurlam continues to rise

“We currently export about a third of our forest products to China and Japan and see more opportunity to grow these markets and to showcase how B.C.’s innovative building materials can help reduce the environmental impact of the built environment,” said Susan Yurkovich, president of the Council of Forest Industries and a veteran of Asia trade missions.

B.C. softwood lumber exports to Japan totalled $725 million in 2016, with more than $1 billion in sales to China the same year.

Negotiations to renew Canada’s expired lumber trade agreement with the U.S. remain stalled, with Canadian officials also grappling with U.S. President Donald Trump’s demand to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. Lumber has never been covered by NAFTA, and the two countries have worked out a series of deals to compensate the U.S. for what it contends is a subsidy produced by selling timber from Crown land in Canada.

B.C. lumber producers were relieved by the latest countervailing and anti-dumping duties imposed by the U.S. government, which were reduced from a preliminary level to a total of nearly 21 per cent for most exports. High lumber prices have offset the impact of the punitive duties on B.C. forest products companies.

RELATED: B.C. mills weather storm of U.S. protectionism

Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr met with provincial officials Friday to discuss the impact of the U.S. action and how to use a $867 million federal program to support affected workers and diversify markets. The U.S. lumber lobby has also attacked that effort, calling it another subsidy to Canadian producers.

Just Posted

Highlands seeks public input on secondary suites

Open house to take place sometime in the summer

Canada Junior Development team qualifies for World Cup in Japan

Nolan Thoroughgood finished the tourney fifth overall for Canada

Elements Casino offers space, resources to charities and community groups

New Platinum Room will be available free of charge

Get your smile on, Free Smile Day is coming up

Two dental clinics in View Royal and Sooke are offering free services on Monday

Parents grieving teen’s overdose death say it started with opioid prescription

Elliot Eurchuk, 16, died at his Oak Bay home Friday, after taking street drugs

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

‘When everybody leaves: Counselling key to help Humboldt move on after bus crash

Dealing with life after a tragedy can be the worst part following a loss

Ballet Victoria soirée fundraiser a prelude to final show of season

Company winds up its 15th season in the city with Peter Pan next month

Half-naked shooter guns down four, runs away in Nashville Waffle House shooting

Nashville police say they are looking for Travis Reinking in connection with the shooting

Child’s body found in river downstream from where boy went missing during flood

Three-year-old Kaden Young was swept out of his mother’s arms in February

B.C. VIEWS: Eliminating efficiency for farm workers

Don’t worry, NDP says, the B.C. economy’s booming

UVic’s Gustavson goes carbon neutral for air travel

As a way to offset the frequent airplane travel that comes with… Continue reading

B.C. student makes short-list for autism advocacy award

Brody Butts honoured for his role as a mentor and self-advocate

Austin Powers ‘Mini-Me’, Verne Troyer, dies at 49

Facebook page confirmed his death Saturday afternoon

Most Read