Indian market open for B.C.

A major legal barrier to B.C. softwood lumber exports to India has been lifted.

A major legal barrier to B.C. softwood lumber exports to India has been lifted.

Liberal leadership candidate Mike de Jong said the change, announced by the Indian Ministry of Agriculture before the New Year, came as a result of advocacy by the B.C. government. If chosen as the next leader of the B.C. Liberal Party, de Jong said he’d commit to developing the Indian market in much the same way as the Chinese market.

“It was about eight years ago that we took some initial steps to enter the wood products market in China. Slowly we removed the impediments. It is now arguably our second-largest market,” de Jong said. “Let’s set as a priority a beachhead for wood products in India. It is a huge potential market, like China was eight years ago.”

Concerns about the introduction of North America pest species into India had previously limited the type of lumber which could be exported to the country. Now heat-treated spruce, pine and fir lumber can legally be imported into India.

Currently B.C. exports approximately $40 million worth of wood products to India, de Jong said.

“Let’s double that in two years and double it again in four years,” he said.

The Indian government is seeking to substantially increase the amount of safe, sanitary, affordable housing in the country, de Jong said. There is a possibility to develop demonstration projects similar to those used to make inroads in the Chinese market, he said.

Developing training programs in wood frame construction in India will also need to be a priority.

“You can’t send a product and watch it be misused, because it’ll turn people off the product,” de Jong said. “We have to be focused. We do this in stages and build success upon success.”

He would not commit to a specific amount of funding to support market development in India, however.

Carrier Lumber president Bill Kordyban said China has become a significant market for Carrier’s products.

“With this new opportunity what happened in China could happen in India,” Kordyban said.