South Pacific timber delegation investigates value-added exports

Britton-TimbersPHAMAA recent Solomon Islands Timber Export Mission to New Zealand and Australia has been deemed invaluable and opened discussion about the potential of value-added, sawn timber exports in the region.

The group of Solomon Islands timber exporters and government officials visited Australia and New Zealand to meet with exporters and importers to investigate the market requirements and opportunities for Solomon Islands sawn timber.  Their visit covered Brisbane (22-25 March) and Auckland (25-29 March) and was organised by the Solomon Islands Timber Industry Working Group.

At present, the vast majority of Solomon Islands timber is exported to China as unprocessed round logs, with wide recognition of the unsustainable level of harvesting. This delegation, however, is focused on promoting exports of sawn timber, as part of a wider goal of adding value to timber exports and improving sustainability.

Sawn timber exports from the Solomon Islands are valued at over SBD $80 million or around USD $9.5 million per year, and the industry employs more than 1000 people. Sixty percent of sawn timber is sold to markets in Australia and New Zealand.

The eight-member delegation was funded by the Pacific Horticultural & Agricultural Market Access (*PHAMA) program as a follow-up to market studies conducted in 2014.  The studies highlighted the need to better understand market requirements in Australia and New Zealand.

Five private sector timber exporters, two officials from the Solomon Islands Ministry of Forestry and Research and a PHAMA representative made up the delegation. The group met with importers and government officials including the New Zealand Timber Importers Association at Pacific Islands Trade & Invest* offices in Newmarket, Auckland.

As part of the ‘mission’ importers and exporters exchanged information on market requirements for timber legality and quality. Markets in the EU and the United States have introduced laws which require exporters demonstrate the legal origin of imported forestry products.  Australia implemented similar legislation in November 2014, while New Zealand (which currently has a voluntary code of practice) could also follow suit.

Other topics covered opportunities to improve timber quality and presentation, processing and end-product requirements, supply, consistency and potential markets for alternative species. Opportunities for potential collaboration with importers to improve timber processing quality in Solomon Islands were also examined. The outcomes from the mission will be shared in the Solomon Islands adding to the further development of the timber export industry.

For more information:

Andrew Sale
National Market Access Coordinator Solomon Islands
 Tel: 677-22384 & 22365| mobile +677-7495736

Mona Mato
Pacific Islands Trade & Invest Trade Development Manager
Tel: 09 529 5165

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Image: Solomon Island delegates and importers look at rosewood timber imported to Australia from the Solomons. The group is pictured at Britton Timbers, Narangba, Brisbane.
*Pacific Islands Trade & Invest Auckland office is one of four Trade offices of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat tasked to assist the 14 member countries of the Forum with Trade and Investment.

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