Logjam Ending After Visit by Chinese Inspectors
A ban by China on imported South Carolina- and Virginia-grown logs is close to ending now that a small delegation of Chinese authorities has visited Virginia and the Carolinas.
The South Carolina Forestry Commission organized the meeting, partnering with ports officials, the US Department of Agriculture, and SC forest industry.
The South Carolina Ports Authority took the lead in funding the visit with help from the SC Forestry Association and other industry representatives who opened their facilities to illustrate the quality of South Carolina exports.
The net result of the visit is a six-month trial period for South Carolina and Virginia logs.
China had halted log imports from the two states more than a year ago when shipments were found to contain the pinewood nematode, an insect that kills trees in some parts of the world, but is harmless in the United States.
“This is a step in the right direction.” says Henry E. Kodama, State Forester in South Carolina. “Lifting the ban and offering a six-month pilot period of continued log imports offers an opportunity to correct any problems that were present and ensures that doors are open for future wood product exports from our state.”
Under the pilot program, log shipments can resume, but with increased testing and certification steps. If South Carolina and Virginia logs meet standards set forth by Chinese inspectors, the two-state ban may be lifted so that those logs will share the same approved status as those exported from other states.
The ban applied only to logs, not lumber or other manufactured wood products because the processing of those products kills any pests that may be present.
Raw log exports account for less than $10 million of the very large $1.3 billion in international forest product exports from South Carolina each year, but Kodama says a ban of any kind of any product must be addressed.
“Even if a commodity isn’t sold in high quantity, a ban could put a cloud over not just South Carolina forest products, but any other international trade efforts. Also, logs may become a bigger export item for SC landowners some day. Forest products are already the number-one export by volume from the Port of Charleston at almost a third of the total port movements, Kodama stresses.”
Kodama has championed South Carolina growing its forest-based economic powerhouse. Forestry’s economic impact is measured at $17 billion a year and is the number-one manufacturing segment of the state economy with regard to job numbers and wages.
“We must retain and grow the industry for our state’s economy and recovery from the recession,” Kodama says.
The three inspectors sent by the Chinese government spent ten days in the US at the end of April. Their tour wrapped up in the Palmetto State where it included guided trips through forests, manufacturing plants, paper mills and an extensive visit at the Port of Charleston.