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Radiata Gains Ground In China

Radiata Gains Ground In China

The New Zealand Forest Industries Council (NZFIC) is making good progress in resolving technical issues around the use of Radiata Pine in China’s construction sector.

NZFIC Chairman Lees Seymour said the Chinese market was strategically important for the forest and wood processing industry.

“China is our fifth largest market for wood product exports and New Zealand’s fourth largest trading partner for all types of commodities.

“In the year ended 31 March 2003, China imported $376 million worth of forestry products. There is plenty of opportunity to grow this even further. It’s a top priority for us to ensure there are no barriers to the use of Radiata Pine in higher value market segments such as construction,” said Mr Seymour.

Mr Seymour said that NZFIC’s CEO Stephen Jacobi was currently in China to conclude a further arrangement for technical co-operation with Chinese agencies.

This co-operation would build on the recognition given to New Zealand Radiata Pine in the new Chinese Timber Design Code, published earlier this year, which for the first time, opens up a potentially significant market by allowing the use of light timber frame construction systems.

Mr Seymour said New Zealand Radiata Pine is listed as an approved species in the new Code, but the listing initially had a number of features that discriminated against its use in Chinese construction.

“To address these issues officials have worked closely with China’s Ministry of Construction in Beijing, and NZFIC has also maintained close co-operation with the agency in Chengdu responsible for preparing the Code. “We are involved in the preparation and publication of a Chinese Timber Construction Handbook, which will be used as a working guide for the industry to the actual Timber Design Code,” said Mr Seymour.

The Handbook includes an updated species description, revised data on the strength and stiffness of radiata and elaborates on durability requirements particularly for insect hazards such as termites.

During his visit Stephen Jacobi is to meet with Chinese officials to launch a joint project to develop a Chinese standard for the acceptance and use of Machine Stress Rated (MSR) structural dimension lumber.

The MSR project will provide an alternative grading methodology to the visual dimension system currently used in China. The alternative process is expected to be very similar to the New Zealand MSR practice.

“By being closely involved in this way, we can influence approval for standard New Zealand Radiata Pine MSR grades, standard 45mm cross sectional sizes, and specific span tables,” said Mr Seymour.

Mr Seymour noted that these initiatives would help secure the position of New Zealand Radiata Pine in the Chinese construction sector in advance of the conclusion of a Free Trade Agreement between New Zealand and China.

In the process of negotiations of this agreement, the NZFIC has commissioned research to identify trade wood barriers for construction products.

“The aim is to ensure that forestry and wood processing sector is represented as best as possible in the conclusion of the FTA,” said Mr Seymour.

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