QUEENSLANDS $ 3.6 billion timber industry is feeling the bite of Chinese trade sanctions, which have seen workers step down and contractors hit tens of millions in losses.
China is practically the only customer for timber exports from Queensland, consuming around 95 percent of the trade, valued at nearly $ 130 million.
Top-notch Timber Queensland has been following the pain in the industry since Chinese officials announced in November that they found « many cases of live pests » in the Queensland logs that « seriously endanger » forest production and the country’s environmental security would.
The statement shuddered the Queensland industry, and Mick Stephens, CEO of TQ, said it didn’t take long for the bans to cause real pain along the production line.
« The recent timber ban has had a significant impact on contractors and producers who are exposed to the timber trade, » he said.
« It’s also a wake up call to the government about how best to grow and develop the timber industry, which provides much-needed timber for the state’s $ 30 billion building sector. »
The November timber ban further escalated China’s trade war against Australia, which has already hit some of the country’s major exports, including coal, beef, wine and seafood.
China later extended the bans to include logs from Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia before adding NSW and Western Australia a few days before Christmas, effectively ending timber trade between the two countries.
Mr Stephens said Queensland’s plantation softwood industry, which accounts for most of its export trade, has been badly hit.
« It has had an impact on the export of bulk business in the Port of Gladstone and container exports in the Port of Brisbane, » he said.
« Timber suppliers were seriously affected and had to hold harvesting teams and fleets back from transport vehicles.
« The Chinese timber ban has had a direct impact on the livelihoods of contract workers as tens of millions of contractor revenues have already been lost. »
The industry has responded with a number of measures to find new customers while working with national counterparts and federal biosafety agencies to improve fumigation and treatment processes.
TQ has also been heavily involved in propping up domestic markets for local processing and stepping up efforts to urge the Palaszczuk government to implement its post-COVID mantra of returning Queensland to a manufacturing powerhouse.
« The good news is that in Queensland we have strong wood production and manufacturing capabilities, which cover around 70 percent of demand, » he said.
« With the right policy settings, the industry could produce an additional $ 300 million and create over 200 additional jobs to meet growing demand. »
« We believe there is a clear opportunity to grow local industry and reduce the level of unprocessed timber exports, which was clearly outlined in the Timber Queensland state election plan, » he said.
« Implementing this plan, which focuses on creating an attractive environment for investment and downstream processing, would help absorb appropriate local resources that are currently exported and create jobs and economic value for the state. »
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