Engineered wood products could be key to export growth for New Zealand's timber industry; value of trade could triple to NZ$12B by 2022, says industry executive

LOS ANGELES , March 22, 2012 () – New Zealand’s wood processors are setting their sights on potentially tripling wood export trade, which currently stands at around NZ$4.5 billion (about US$3.6 billion), Radio New Zealand reported on March 22.

Markets are being eyed in Europe, North America and parts of Asia for exporting higher-value wood products.

The push is likely to be led by the development of stronger, more earthquake-resistant timber products.

Bill McCallum, President of the New Zealand Forest Owners Association, said a key part of the industry’s growth expectations lie in expanding overseas markets for New Zealand-made engineered wood products.

According to McCallum, the wood industry could achieve export growth earnings of NZ$12 billion by the year 2022.

Currently, about 70% of New Zealand’s forest production is exported, almost half of that in log form. Meanwhile, the domestic wood-processing sector has seen many mill closures and job losses in recent years, Radio New Zealand noted.

McCallum said demand for New Zealand's logs is likely to continue from Korea, Japan, China and India, but that growth potential lies in other markets for value-added products, such as the engineered wood currently being used in rebuilding the earthquake-hit Christchurch area.

McCallum does not see the high New Zealand dollar as an obstacle to expansion, but acknowledged it does make exporting challenging, Radio New Zealand reported.

The primary source of this article is Radio New Zealand, Wellington, New Zealand, March 22, 2012.

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