The Australian forest industries delegation which visited Japan last week has been hailed a success, forging new relationships with Japanese forest products companies and showcasing Australia’s renewably-sourced wood fibre to Japan’s lucrative wood biomass market, a rapidly-expanding source of renewable energy in Japan.
Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA), Mr Ross Hampton said the four-day mission fulfilled its objectives of strengthening trade relationships with Japanese forest products companies including major paper producers, and to highlight the exemplary environmental standards to which Australia’s native forest industries operate across the value chain.
Led by AFPA, Responsible Wood, and Federal Member for Barker and Co-Convenor of the Australian Parliamentary Friends of Forestry and Forest Products group, Mr Tony Pasin MP, and made up of senior representatives of various Australian forestry companies the delegation briefed Japanese trade partners on exciting innovations and emerging opportunities in Australia’s sustainable forest industries. It met with Japanese Government officials, Japanese industry leaders including bioenergy and paper companies, and Tokyo-based Australian officials.
“The mission was a great success in terms of strengthening our trade relationship with Japan. The discussions about new and existing product opportunities should be exciting for Australian industry and consumers in Japan,” Mr Hampton said.
“The forestry industry is a cornerstone industry for the South East of South Australia and the wider Green Triangle. The trip was a fantastic opportunity for me to gain a greater understanding of Australian forestry products in Japan which make up such a large percentage of our exports. For example, Australia exported more than 2.5 million tonnes of woodchips to Japan in the 12 months to September, worth about AUD $492 million. Much of this was product of the South East,” Mr Tony Pasin MP said.
“Japan’s appetite for our Aussie woodchips and manufactured bio-pellets has driven the country’s move into bio-energy. This means increased demand for our product and the South East sits in prime position to benefit from this burgeoning market. The Japan-Australia Economic Partnership Agreement (JAEPA) is assisting our export growth and is already having huge positive effect our local industry.
“And, with the Federal Government’s National Forest Industries Plan recently released it was the perfect time to ensure the Japanese Government understands the opportunities that will open for the forestry sector in Australia and what this means for increased trade,” Mr Pasin concluded.
Simon Dorries of Responsible Wood lauded the success of the delegation, providing the industry with a rare opportunity to introduce and raise awareness of Australia’s largest forest certification scheme within the Japanese market.
“Responsible Wood, endorsed by the Programme of the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC), is Australia’s largest forest certification scheme and the only forest certification scheme endorsed to an Australian Standard through AS 4707 and AS 4708,” Mr Dorries said.
“Responsible Wood certifies more than 8.7 million hectares of hardwood and softwood forests, and with more than 250 Chain of Custody scheme holders our ‘trust mark’ is carried by a variety of businesses that import to and export from the Japanese market.
“Responsible Wood certification is all about verifying the environmental and social origin of timber at its source, in the forest, we provide verification that timber is sourced, processed and distributed sustainably.
“Furthermore, the Japanese Government and industry expressed support for both international certification schemes, PEFC, being Responsible Wood in Australia, as well as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC),” Mr Dorries concluded.
“We do hope to continue to strengthen our trade ties with Japan through an ongoing dialogue and hope that this delegation last week was just the start of a stronger relationship,” Mr Hampton concluded.