Hardwood exports from the United States to China are expected to branch out thanks to the country's protection of forest reserves and fast expanding furniture and interior decoration market.
"I predict US hardwood exports to China will grow at least by 15 percent this year and next year," said John Chan, regional director of the Southeast Asia and China office of the American Hardwood Export Council.
Hardwood is used for furniture making and interior decoration.
China's position as one of the top hardwood importers from the US will further improve in the near future, Chan said.
Last year, US hardwood exports to China totaled US$274 million, compared to total exports of US$2.5 billion.
China's prospering furniture and interior decoration market will fuel more need for hardwood, Chan said.
Statistics from the China Interior Decoration Association show Chinese people spent US$36 billion on interior decoration last year, with 25 percent on wood materials.
Around US$14 billion was spent on the furniture market in the same period.
According to Chan, US hardwood species red oak, western red alder and veneer were the most popular in China last year, with their shipments reaching US$90 million.
"Increasing US exports will also help ease China's shortage in timber, as the country spares no effort to protect its forests," Chan said.
It is necessary for China, a country short on forest, to import a large amount of timber and wood products in the next decade or even longer.
The government has worked hard to protect natural forests since 1998, which leaves a shortage in the domestic timber market of about 60 million cubic meters every year.
Chan expects China's tariff cut on wood will stimulate such exports from US companies.
There has been no tariff on logs since last year in a bid to encourage timber imports.
China's agreement with the World Trade Organization says import tariffs on wood products will be cut from the original 15 to 20 percent to an average of 2 to 3 percent by 2004.
(China Daily April 8, 2002)