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Overseas market for US lumber abounds if lumbermen can deliver

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While the financially troubled timber industry in the Northwest "has important and growing markets" in the Middle East, Europe, and Australia, its best opportunity today lies in serving the needs of Pacific Rim countries, especially Japan.

This view was presented by C. W. Bingham, senior vice- president of the Weyerhauser Company, speaking at a recent Forest Products Conference here.

The Pacific Rim countries, Mr. Bingham asserted, "are short of softwood materials and they can be served very competitively from the West Coast."

Mr. Bingham said that a substantial timber export market began developing "around 1960 as first Japan, and more recently Europe, began to reach the limits of their sustainable annual timber harvests and began to seek new (supply) sources."

By 1970, the speaker noted, Japan was importing 55 percent of its total wood requirement, and by 1980 "its wood deficit had grown to 68 percent." But Mr. Bingham warned that timber industry executives should not take export markets, especially Japan, for granted.

"The first principle is to sell what the customer wants to buy," he said. "Probably mix can be changed gradually after confidence is reached that we are reliable suppliers."

The Weyerhauser executive also listed five other steps that must be taken to effectively serve the overseas market:

* There must be production in those sizes and qualities of products needed in the marketplace.

* There must be demonstrated commitment on the part of US timbermen to providing steady supplies to those markets.

* Products produced for export must be usable in overseas markets, and marketing approaches must meet the needs of overseas' customers.

* Political and governmental environments must connote that continuity of supply will be both permitted and encouraged.

Major investments must be made in mills, port facilities, and ships to handle the export traffic.

Weyerhauser between 1975 and 1980 made new capital investments of $2.2 billion in Oregon and Washington covering reforestation, road construction, the maintenance, modernization, and replacement of existing plants and machines, and new capacity and facilities.


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