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China timber projects lay foundation for marketers

Completed China timber projects lay foundation for marketers

A major initiative to gain regulatory acceptance for Radiata pine in China will be successfully completed in the next few months, providing a solid foundation for further market development.

New Zealand Forest Industries Council Chief Executive Stephen Jacobi announced the conclusion of the projects in a speech to the Wood Markets Asia Conference in Auckland today (27 July).

Over the past three years FIC has championed moves to ensure Radiata pine was included in the Chinese Building Code and supported with appropriate technical evidence.

“These are issues that have taken three years to resolve, cost close to a quarter of a million dollars, involved hours of technical discussion, several visits to and from China and the closest possible cooperation between the industry and government agencies,” Mr Jacobi said.

“Ultimately it’s been worth it because it has ensured New Zealand timber has technical endorsement in market.”

Currently the number of wood frame houses built in China is extremely small, however a number of factors point to increasing wood use. The industry’s strategy in China is to respond to market needs and build confidence in the product over time.

“Any technical limitations such as non recognition in a Building Code or compulsory Standard are in practice non tariff barriers to trade. We can’t accept any limitations imposed on the use of Radiata pine that could have consequences in the future,” Mr Jacobi said.

“In the course of these projects we have been in constant touch with Chinese regulators and technical experts. They now know a lot more about our products.”

The Chinese Building Code featuring Radiata pine was published in 2003, unfortunately with limited technical detail in support. These issues have been addressed through preparation of a Timber Construction Handbook, a Chinese government-endorsed user’s guide to the Building Code which will be published in October this year.

“The handbook includes the technical evidence that legitimises the product, things like an accurate definition of New Zealand Radiata pine and a correct ranking in terms of strength and durability against competing species,” Mr Jacobi said.

The final element of the project, a Chinese Standard recognising New Zealand machine stress rated lumber under local building conditions has been prepared and now needs to be published in a technical journal.

Mr Jacobi thanked the project team and representatives of the Chinese and New Zealand governments for their support of the project.

“Officials from the New Zealand Embassy in Beijing, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry have worked very hard on this with their Chinese counterparts.”

He said the initiative was a model case study on how industry and government could work together to remove non tariff barriers to trade and secure competitive advantage in key markets.

“This project means the perception of Radiata pine has been lifted beyond a wood seen as good for packaging or plywood cores. This is the basis on which to build a focused and sustained market development effort.”

ENDS

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