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Japan trade mission pursues new opportunities for B.C. wood

December 14, 2022

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British Columbia (B.C.) representatives recently conducted the first post-COVID-19 forestry trade mission to Japan. The mission sought to increase market opportunities and encourage expanded use of B.C. wood products.

B.C.’s forest industry has shipped lumber to Japan for nearly 100 years, with more than 45 years of in-country market development work led by industry and government. In 2021, B.C. sold forest products to Japan valued at $1.6 billion.

Trade and Invest British Columbia (TIBC) supported the five-day mission, that took place in early November 2022. Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests at the time of the mission, forest industry representatives, federal and provincial officials, and Indigenous leaders attended events across Japan. TIBC staff also provided cultural orientation to the First Nations delegates and supported them throughout the course of the mission.

The primary objectives of the mission were to strengthen existing relationships and identify new market opportunities. Delegates also showcased B.C.’s leadership in sustainable and innovative forest product manufacturing and construction practices.

“Japan is a critically important export market for B.C.’s high-quality wood products, and we are excited to engage directly and strengthen relationships with our key customers and trading partners,” said Conroy. “Through B.C.’s global leadership and innovation in sustainable forestry and mass timber manufacturing, we have the opportunity to increase exports, given Japan’s focus on green building construction and wood use in public buildings. This will support good, well-paying jobs for people across the province.”

TIBC Japan mission

Over the course of the mission, the group participated in a wide array of activities, including: touring the Tokyo University of the Arts nail-laminated timber demonstration project, which is the first example of an engineered spruce-pine-fir (SPF) nail-laminated timber floor system commercially adopted in Japan; witnessing the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Canada Wood and developer Seiwa Corporation on the joint development of tall midply; hosting a customer appreciation reception at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo; visiting the B.C. Wood Japan office and touring the Log Road Commercial Development, which features extensive use of western red cedar; visiting Osaka to talk with customers in the Kansai region; meeting with Japanese officials from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transportation and Tourism, and the Japan Forestry Agency; and, meeting with the co-chairs and executive director of the Japan 2×4 Home Builders Association.

One of the delegates on the mission was Bruce St. John of Canada Wood, a government-supported group that encourages the diversification of global markets (especially in Asia) by promoting Canadian wood products and wood construction systems through advancing technologies.

“Asia has made a commitment of building a net-zero future by recognizing the use of low-carbon construction materials. By supporting innovative wood building systems in construction in China, Japan and Korea, Canada Wood is exporting Canadian low-carbon products and technology while maintaining the competitiveness of the Canadian forest industry.”

B.C.’s forests are managed sustainably, and forest companies are required to replant areas harvested. The Government of British Columbia  recently introduced legislative changes to enhance the role of First Nations in long-term forest planning and decision-making.

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