Wednesday April 20, 2022 | VANCOUVER, BC
by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends
A new Forestry Innovation Investment (FII) office in Vietnam will help drive trade opportunities and sustainable jobs in B.C.’s forestry sector while offering greater protection from market volatility and other global challenges.
The office is a key first step in developing B.C.’s Trade Diversification Strategy, part of the StrongerBC Economic Plan. The strategy will allow businesses to connect with more international partners, creating more jobs in B.C. and helping to protect B.C.’s trade network from supply-chain disruption, market instability and geographically specific trends and changes.
“The pandemic and global unrest have shown us the impact these events can have on our economy and trade relationships with global partners,” said Ravi Kahlon, Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation. Today is his media announcement Kahlon specifically mentioned how in the past two years “have changed our lives, economy and future”. He firmly noted the “illegal invasion of Ukraine by Russia”.
“By moving away from over-reliance on a single market, we can grow revenue for sustainable B.C. businesses and jobs and protect British Columbians from global disruptions.”
Vietnam furniture focus:
At first, the use of BC value-added wood products will be used in Vietnam’s furniture industry.
Minister Kahlon said that people may not know that Vietnam is “the second-largest producer of wood furniture in the entire world”. It seems like a good place to expand BC’s forestry products partnership footprint.
Vietnamese furniture products include those made of plywood and solid wood as household accessories, cabinets, and flat-pack items. Vietnam is also known for its wicker and bamboo furniture products.
BC’s international FII office in Vietnam, in the province of Binh Duong, will focus on ensuring B.C. is the preferred supplier of sustainable and certified softwood lumber products to Vietnam.
From 2017 to 2021, B.C. softwood lumber exports to Vietnam increased by 59%, it was stated in a news release from the Ministry of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation today.
Offices in China, India and now Vietnam:
Today was the virtual ‘ribbon cutting’ of the BC office in Vietnam. BC already has trade offices in China and India.
In China, BC wood products are used in the commercial building sector, said Kahlon. In India this province’s wood products are used in high quality furniture production, he said.
FII has its main headquarters in Vancouver.
Benefits to BC:
The Trade Diversification Strategy will help increase opportunities to export B.C. products and services, including value-added wood products, and attract foreign investment to support B.C. businesses and workers. With the majority of forest products destined for export markets, diversification can help protect B.C.’s forestry sector from ups and downs in the global marketplace.
“Developing a Trade Diversification Strategy will provide more opportunities for B.C. businesses to expand as we build on our strong economic recovery,” said George Chow, Minister of State for Trade. “The opening of our Vietnam office is a crucial step for the growth of our forestry sector and will provide B.C. with an opportunity to highlight our environmental, social, and good governance values, which are among our key competitive advantages.”
Katrine Conroy, Minister of Forests, said in today’s release: “Diversifying our export markets and improving our trade networks will help B.C. build a stronger and more resilient forestry sector. This will drive expanded opportunities for jobs, growth and innovation for one of the Province’s largest industries in new markets, and will position B.C. to supply the world with sustainable, low-carbon products.”
Canada has more third-party-certified forests than any other country in the world, with B.C. contributing a major portion.
Building on work from 2017:
Work to create a dedicated forestry trade office in Vietnam began in 2017, with initial steps focused on product trials and outreach efforts.
Recently, Vietnam has increased its emphasis on using certified sustainable sources – a requirement of increasingly more countries and large companies. Establishing this new FII office puts B.C.͛s forestry sector in a strong position to further expand trade relationships with Vietnam.
Throughout the spring, the Province will continue to engage with businesses as it works to further develop the Trade Diversification Strategy, which is set to be released this summer.
Vietnam and Canada are both signatories of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), an international trade agreement that reduces barriers to trade.
Between April 2020 and March 2021, 41 product trials were completed by FII in Vietnam, driving interest in a variety of B.C. wood species.
Economy that works for everyone:
The StrongerBC Economic Plan moves British Columbia forward by tackling the challenges of today while growing an economy that works for everyone.
The long-term plan builds off B.C.’s strong economic recovery and works to address two long-standing challenges – inequality and climate change – by closing the skills gap, building resilient communities, and helping businesses and people transition to clean-energy solutions. The plan sets two main goals for the Province – inclusive growth and clean growth – and puts forward six missions to keep B.C. on track.
Products for the world:
Alexa Young, vice-president, government and public affairs, BC Council of Forest Industries took part in today’s announcement. She highlighted BC forestry products such as lumber, shakes and shingles, and paper products. She noted that “the pandemic hasn’t slowed down expectation”.
“BC is a leader in taking care of forests,” Young said.
“People want products that are good for the planet,” she said in support of steady demand for quality wood products. She added today that the pandemic has not slowed down the expectation for these types of products.
“B.C.’s a leader in providing sustainably produced, low-carbon forest products the world wants, and this announcement will help us reach more customers across the globe who are seeking products that are a better choice for the planet,” she was quoted in the news release.
“As we collectively work to drive to net-zero and zero waste, we look forward to working in partnership with government, Indigenous Peoples, communities and labour to show the world B.C.’s got the renewable products, the people and the know-how to be part of the solution.”
B.C.’s western hemlock is one of the most popular product choices in Vietnam and is the most plentiful tree species on the B.C. coast.
“As the second-largest exporter of wooden furniture in the world, Vietnam provides a great opportunity. This is a strategic time to establish a presence in Southeast Asia and promote sustainable forest products from British Columbia. Vietnam and the region present exciting long-term opportunities for further diversification and growth,” says Michael Loseth, CEO, Forestry Innovation Investment.
“The opening of the FII office in Vietnam is a vivid example of our win-win economic relationship. Being Canada’s gateway to Asia, B.C.’s Trade Diversification Strategy matches Vietnam’s multilateral economic policy that has been successfully applied for many years. This is a concrete and significant step to help celebrate the 50th anniversary of Canada and Vietnam’s diplomatic relationship,” says Nguyen Quang Trung, consul general of Vietnam in Vancouver.
===== GOVERNMENT LINKS:
StrongerBC Economic Plan, visit: https://strongerbc.gov.bc.ca/plan
Forestry Innovation Investment (FII), visit: https://www.bcfii.ca/
Canadian Wood Vietnam, visit: www.canadianwood.com.vn
Vietnam FII office, visit: https://flic.kr/p/2nfD3E5