New Zealand timber industry jobs could be threatened by potential surge in imports of Chinese pre-fabricated, steel-framed houses; industry fears 'crazy procurement process' could see government grant tender for 2,100 China-made homes for Auckland

LOS ANGELES , October 23, 2013 () – New Zealand’s timber industry workers could face another jobs squeeze if the government grants a tender for the overseas construction of 2,100 pre-fabricated, steel-framed homes, Stuff.co.nz reported on Oct. 22.

The liquidation of Rotorua-based sawmill Tachikawa Forest Products has already left New Zealand’s timber industry reeling. Now it faces potentially thousands of pre-fabricated, steel-framed buildings entering the Auckland market from China.

The prospect of the government buying overseas-built Housing Corp. homes for Auckland emerged just days after Tachikawa was placed in receivership, pointing 120 workers towards redundancy, Stuff.co.nz reported.

First Union General Secretary Robert Reid said he would be "horrified" if the government tender allowed it, adding that the “crazy procurement process” currently takes no account of New Zealand’s economic development. "Something like that could be easily manufactured by the Tachikawa plant with a new owner, or by a number of other wood sites," said Reid.

Carl Davies, general manager of the National Association of Steel-Framed Housing, said he had not heard anything about steel-framed, Chinese-made pre-fab houses entering New Zealand, and was “sure” the association would have been consulted about such a move.

In the year to March, New Zealand exported just over 2.6 million cubic meters of logs to China, nearly 1 million cubic meters more than the previous year, according to Statistics New Zealand. The next biggest market was South Korea, at 611,252 cubic meters.

The primary source of this article is Stuff, Auckland, New Zealand, Oct. 22, 2013.

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