July 25, 2014

Solid demand for wood exports

State officials host experts to talk about ways Wisconsin wood exporters can take advantage of other markets. Keynote speaker Michael Snow, executive director of the Virginia-based American Hardwood Export Council, says although globalization is often portrayed as jobs going overseas, there is an upside to it.

“It’s not just production that is going global, it’s consumption going global,” says Snow, referring to foreign markets seeing increasing standards of living and a demand for U.S. goods.

He says research shows 50 percent of finished wood products being made in the U.S. are exported, in the case of veneer as much as 70 percent.

Snow highlights Asia as the strongest U.S. timber export market, with China way ahead-of-the-pack. China used to be the go-to place for low cost production but he says Vietnam is replacing it as the center for cheap Asian labor. China continues major importing of U.S. timber, most of which remains there to be used in Chinese construction.

While Southern parts of Europe are experiencing economic problems, Snow says the U.K. and Germany remain strong. He touts Latin America as a steady region, including Mexico, as wood floors increase in popularity over traditional tile flooring in homes. Meanwhile, parts of the Middle East, like Dubai, are seeing explosive growth.

The event–sponsored in part by DATCP, UW Extension, and DNR-Division of Forestry–also featured a panel discussion with directors of the Hardwood Council’s international offices.