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14 May 2001
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is moving to cultivate a multi-billion dollar timber market in China, with the signing this week of a Memorandum of Understanding with the Chinese forestry administration.
A delegation of top-level officials from the State Forestry Administration of China is currently in New Zealand to formalise the relationship between the two countries' forestry administrations. The signing of the MOU, which takes place on Wednesday 16 May, establishes a Joint Forestry Commission between the two countries, providing a formal vehicle for ensuring closer co-operation in forestry matters.
The Commission will promote collaboration in forestry science and technology, organise exchanges of personnel, promoting an effective exchange of information, and provide a framework under which specific forestry issues can be addressed such as sustainable forest management, research, trade and market regulatory issues.
MAF's Acting Director-General, Larry Fergusson, says there is enormous scope to expand New Zealand's forestry exports to China and this meeting is an opportunity to raise the profile of this country's product.
"China has a huge appetite for wood, with over 60 million cubic metres consumed each year," says Mr Fergusson. "This includes over 20 million cubic metres of imports.
"New Zealand, however, exports only half a million cubic metres of wood to China – that's only two percent of total forestry imports. There is a huge opportunity there," he says.
With China's entry into the World Trade Organisation, tariffs on value added products are expected to decline sharply, creating further opportunities for New Zealand.
And Mr Fergusson says New Zealand supply from planted forests is forecast to increase dramatically in the next three years. "We need to find market opportunities for such a large increase in volume and China is one key market in need of developing."
Along with highlighting New Zealand's export potential, MAF will be raising other issues with the Chinese delegation.
"We would like to address the fact that their construction codes do not recognise wood-frame constructions, and that the Chinese building standards work against wooden doors and window frames in favour of aluminium and vinyl," says Mr Fergusson. "It all adds up."
MAF will also discuss new quarantine restrictions imposed on New Zealand logs, requiring them to be debarked or treated, and creating extra cost. "We're interested to discuss what these restrictions are designed to achieve and what insect species are targeted by the new requirements, Mr Fergusson says.
While in New Zealand, the Chinese delegation are meeting with members of the forestry industry and touring the Forest Research facility in Rotorua.
For further information, please contact:
Gita Parsot, Communications Advisor 04 498 9806
Don Wijewardana, Director, MAF International Forestry Policy 04 498 9870