22 Mar 2012

Engineered timber products seen as key to export growth

8:13 am on 22 March 2012

The Forest Wood Industry is aiming to triple its roughly $4.5 billion export market over the next decade, led by the development of stronger timber products that are more resistant to earthquake damage.

About 70% of forest production is exported and nearly half that goes overseas as raw logs, while the wood processing sector has been hard hit by closures and job losses in recent times.

Forest Owners Association president Bill McCallum says the plan's targeting export earnings of $12 billion by 2022.

Mr McCallum says engineered wood products, which are as strong as steel and more flexible and fire resistant, are ideal for both commercial and industrial building construction.

He says there are some good examples of engineered timber-based construction in the Christchurch red zone where rebuilding is underway.

Mr McCallum says a key component of the industry's growth expectations is expanding that market overseas.

He says demand for New Zealand's unprocessed wood products or logs is likely to continue from the existing markets of Korea, Japan, China and India.

But Mr McCallum says New Zealand wood processors are also exporting finished and higher value products to a much wider range of geographical markets - in Europe, North America and parts of Asia - and it's in those markets where there is growth potential for value-added products.

He says the high New Zealand dollar is making for a difficult world market however it doesn't think it will limit expansion plans.