Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: The country imports almost as much wood as it exports, and the wood industry is an important segment of Wisconsin’s export volume.
China’s government is working to save the country’s forests even as its residents have increased their demand for wood products.
China is the largest exporter of wood products in the world, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN).
Over the past several years, though, China has enacted a ban on commercial logging in natural forests and has worked to restore some degraded woodlands. The goal is to protect and restore 200 million hectares (494 million acres) of forests by 2035, according to China Daily.
As a result of the restrictions on domestic production, China has increased its dependence on imported wood; imports now make up about 50% of the country’s wood supply.
In 2021, China produced nearly 99 million cubic meters of wood while imports amounted to 96.5 million cubic meters and were valued at $25.3 billion. The U.S. is one of China’s top sources for wood imports, along with Russia, New Zealand, and Canada. China is the second-largest wood importer worldwide, behind only the U.S., GAIN says.
Wood imports to the U.S. are primarily finished and semi-finished products such as timber, plywood, paper products, and wood furniture, while U.S. exports consist mainly of raw materials such as logs and wood pulp.
As the income of many Chinese residents has risen, so has the demand for wood products that are considered environmentally friendly, functional, and attractive. Products that are aldehyde-free and antibacterial are also gaining popularity. Major companies are strengthening their research and development as well as quality control, which requires high-tech wood processing machines.
China’s most recent five-year plan calls for adopting green, technologically advanced manufacturing systems, but the country’s wood processing facilities have been slow to adopt those measures. In the coming years, imports of high-tech equipment are expected to grow.
Wood products and wood processing exporters in Wisconsin may find interested buyers in China.