Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Forest Minister touts benefits for Port of Prince Rupert of Chinese housing boom

Pat Bell, BC's Forest Minister, has been making the rounds in China over the last few days, leading a Canadian delegation of government and forest industry officials, as they seek to increase the movement of forest products from Canada to China and improve trade relations between the two countries.

Some progress towards that goal was apparently reached on Monday, as an agreement was signed yesterday with the City of Shanghai, one which could see British Columbia companies gain a share of the supply chain for an anticipated 20 million square metres of affordable housing space set to be built in that Chinese city by 2012.

The Minister suggests that with the Chinese examining the benefits of milled lumber from British Columbia, the shipments of that lumber could see an increase of throughput at the Port of Prince Rupert.

The move towards finished product, as opposed to frequent raw log shipments of late, could also herald a new market opportunity for the province's struggling saw mills.

As part of British Columbian's continuing interest in building trade links with China, the Federal Government is about to provide funding of $800,000 in 2009-10 to construct a wood-frame demonstration building to showcase the application of wood design and building materials. That demonstration project will be managed through the province's Forestry Innovation Investment program.

While in China, the Forest Minister has also talked up the prospect of Chinese investment into the Eurocan pulp mill in Kitimat and MacKenzie's Worthington mill.

It will be interesting to see if the investment in the showcase building will lead to an increase in trade and investment. The constant mantra of increasing those links with China has been heard for a number of years now, and a quick scan of the comments pages from some of the articles outlining the details of the agreement, (see below) will show that more than a few folks are waiting for more tangible evidence of the success of the trip before they pop the champagne corks.

Opinion 250-- Trade Mission A Breakthrough
Vancouver Sun-- B.C. lumber a part of China's $586-billion stimulus package
North Island News-- Chinese builders take to B.C. wood
Prince George Citizen-- Lumber trade grows in China
Business in Vancouver-- B.C. hopes to benefit from updated Shanghai construction code

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