The United States’ lumber industry has long been at the forefront of the global fight against climate change, but its influence is shifting increasingly to the rest of the world.
The country that makes up over 70% of the US timber supply chain, with a growing number of major American companies supplying products like timber and timber products to the world, is increasingly at the centre of a global movement to end the devastating effects of climate change.
The US, which is home to some of the largest forests in the world with around 300 million trees, is one of the most rapidly growing global woodlands, with nearly three million hectares being logged in the past five years, according to the US Forest Service.
It is a critical part of the American economy, with more than $70bn in annual exports.
But many of these products are being processed in China, which has also begun to tackle climate change and is leading the world in the process of converting forests to biogas, a renewable energy source that would allow the industry to meet growing demand for energy and reduce carbon emissions.
The United States has a long history of working with Chinese timber companies, which are in turn dependent on their domestic timber supply.
For years, the US government has been pressuring Chinese timber producers to stop deforestation and to adopt sustainable practices, including planting trees with native plants and harvesting forests that are naturally forested.
But the government has not been able to achieve this, and has become increasingly concerned about the health of the Chinese industry.
A coalition of groups, including the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, is calling for US companies to stop buying timber from Chinese companies.
The coalition also calls on US companies like Pacific Northwest Logistics and Logistics Association to take a stand against the US logging industry’s practices, and to halt the purchase of American timber from China.
“This is a national security issue.
China is the second largest importer of timber in the US, behind the US.
This is a direct threat to our national security,” said Andrew Satterfield, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a former adviser to the Obama administration.”
If the Chinese lumber industry continues to do this, it will be a massive security threat to the United States,” he said.
According to the alliance, between 2005 and 2020, US companies imported US$14.5bn worth of timber from the Chinese market, an increase of nearly 15% in that period.US companies that purchase Chinese timber, which includes pulp and paper mills, are required to keep all of their products within US borders.
Satterfield said this is problematic because they often do not adhere to the same laws that govern domestic imports, like the import permit requirements.
“The way they do it is by having their own ‘bulk buyer’ company, and that’s where the real meat of the deal is, and they can legally import it,” he explained.SATOSLINK – American Timber, a large US-based company that has invested in a Chinese-owned company called Pangzi, is a prime example of this.
The company is a major supplier to the Chinese timber industry, sourcing approximately 10% of its products from China, according the alliance.SATSAT – The US Trade Representative’s Office is currently investigating a possible violation of the trade agreement between the US and China.
The Trump administration has been criticised for the potential threat posed by China’s timber industry.
Last year, the Trump administration issued a sweeping review of the rules of trade in the timber industry that also includes new rules for Chinese companies to avoid violating US environmental and human rights laws.
The review is due to be completed in a month and is due in early 2019.
The alliance, however, has raised the alarm over the potential for US firms to continue purchasing Chinese timber products despite the US trade review.
The association, along with the National Association of Manufacturers and others, has called on the Trump Administration to issue clear, binding guidance to all US companies and US government agencies on the export of American wood products to China.
While the trade review will not be complete, the alliance is calling on the US to issue a formal export ban for Chinese timber.
This is particularly important, Satterstein said, because the US imports approximately 90% of all timber from Asia, a region that has a high demand for American timber.
“We are calling on all of the countries of the Americas to take steps to protect American jobs,” he added.