Negotiating free trade deal with Japan will further solidify Canadian wood products industry's commercial relationship with 'critical customer' says Canada Wood Group president

VANCOUVER, British Columbia , March 26, 2012 (press release) – Paul Newman, president of the Canada Wood Group (CWG) today congratulated Prime Minister Stephen Harper and International Trade Minister Ed Fast for pursuing negotiation of a free trade deal with Japan. Canada Wood is the organization that represents the Canadian wood industry overseas as it develops new markets for its products and works with diverse customer groups.

"Japan is a critical customer for the Canadian forest industry and the commercial relationships in place will only be strengthened and further solidified by passage of a free trade deal," Newman said. "Free trade with Japan will enhance Canada's competitiveness vis-à-vis other international suppliers and would also put us on an equal footing with the domestic Japanese forest industry."

Canada Wood Group delivers comprehensive market access and development programming from its Tokyo-based office. Participating industry sectors include value-added wood products, softwood lumber from the B.C. Coast, Interior and Alberta, plus structural panel products and hardwoods from Quebec. CWG activities include creation of new end uses in the Japan construction sector, training for Japanese industry and promotion of Canadian products/building systems and environmental reputation.

Total softwood lumber shipments to Japan in 2011 reached $732 million. Unlike the United States where demand for Canadian wood products has plummeted in recent years, Japanese consumption has been steady throughout and on an upward trend. Coupled with Japan's requirement for premium lumber grades the country is highly valued by Canadian producers.

In concert with Natural Resources Canada and the B.C. Government, industry members of CWG recently established a fund to assist hard-hit Japanese communities in the tsunami afflicted Tokohu region of Japan rebuild urgently needed community facilities. Newman said, "Canada greatly admires the resilience of the Japanese people and our creation of the Canada-Japan Reconstruction Initiative reflects the hope and optimism that we share for the recovery of Japan. Passage of a free trade deal should help to broaden trade links between the Canadian forest industry and local Japanese communities and commercial interests rebuilding the country's infrastructure and affected communities."

Source: Canada Wood

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