China passes U.S. as B.C. lumber buyer

Chinese buyers purchased $122 million worth of B.C. lumber in May, surpassing the value of lumber shipments to the United States for the first time ever.

Sawmill production in B.C. is on the upswing

Chinese buyers purchased $122 million worth of B.C. lumber in May, surpassing the value of lumber shipments to the United States for the first time ever.

A record monthly volume of 746,000 cubic metres of lumber was shipped to China in May, according to figures released Sunday by the B.C. government. In the first five months of 2011, 2.8 million cubic metres of lumber have gone to China, more than double the same period last year based on value as well as volume.

Jobs, Tourism and Innovation Minister Pat Bell credited the efforts of governments and industry to promote sales and wood construction over the past eight years.

“In only five months, we’ve shipped the equivalent of over 76,000 containers of wood to China, the equivalent production of approximately 14 typical Interior sawmills over this period,” Bell said.

Adding up sales to Japan, Korea and other Asian destinations, the first five months of the year totalled $776 million, nearly half of B.C.’s total exports. Sales to the U.S. totalled $661 million during the same period.

The prolonged housing slump in the U.S. has taken its toll on U.S. sales. In the first five months of 2010, U.S. sales accounted for $815 million, or 58 per cent of B.C.’s total sales.

Total production from B.C. sawmills has climbed this year due to demand from Asia, recovering from the U.S. market collapse that began in 2007.

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