Exports hurt local timber industry

CATHERINE HARRIS
Last updated 05:00 06/02/2014

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So many logs are being exported to China that sawmills are finding it hard to meet construction companies' needs, the timber industry says.

Demand from China for New Zealand logs is so strong that Kiwi millers find it difficult to match the price and are missing out on supply, Timber Industry Federation director Kevin Hing says.

Many of his members were concerned to see logging trucks going past their gates to the ports "when they can't get any logs themselves".

Labour leader David Cunliffe and other Labour MPs plan to meet Northland forestry representatives today to discuss the issue.

Labour forestry spokesman Shane Jones said it was "madness that in a country with large pine forests there is a shortage of logs".

"Sawmillers have orders to fill but simply can't do it as twice the number of logs processed here are sent overseas," he said.

"New Zealand sawmillers should be given priority for the Christchurch rebuild. That's what Labour will do."

Hing said he did not blame local forest owners for taking advantage of strong export prices, especially as the harvest increased.

"We would never say all logs have to be processed onshore. . . but what we'd like to see is some commitment from log owners to the local processing industry," he said.

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