Chinese timber market big business

BIG LOAD: The Baishaling is loaded with a large shipment of logs at  Bluff yesterday, before it headed to China.
BIG LOAD: The Baishaling is loaded with a large shipment of logs at Bluff yesterday, before it headed to China.

A multimillion-dollar shipment of New Zealand logs left Bluff yesterday as the country benefits from a Russian export tax on logs being shipped to China.

Importers NAC Trading were transporting the shipment of 20,000 tonnes of logs to China.

Southport cargo operations manager Geoff Finnerty said it was just part of a growing number of forestry exports leaving Bluff.

The port's dealings with NAC Trading had grown to the extent that more than 10,000 square metres had been set aside as additional storage space for NAC's logs, he said.

Southern Wood Council chairman Grant Dodson said the rising demand for New Zealand radiata pine in China was a result of the Russian Government introducing a 25 per cent export tax on unprocessed timber in late 2008.

"New Zealand's basically been filling the gap, really," he said.

It was difficult to tell how much yesterday's Southport shipment would be worth, as prices depended on the grade of the logs, he said.

But Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry figures from September show log exports fetched between $109 and $219 per Japanese Agricultural Standard, which is measured in metres cubed and is roughly the same as a tonne.

That would mean yesterday's shipment would be worth anywhere between $2.18 million and $4.38m.

The industry was now big business, he said.

"Logging crews have been really busy, and there's been vessels coming in practically every week, and taking huge loads out," he said.

NAC Trading export manager Barbara Zhang, based in Wellington, said the company had exported more than 77,000 tonnes of logs out of ports in Bluff and Tauranga since April.

"The New Zealand Government has made a lot of effort to develop the trading between the two countries, which is very helpful," she said.

The Southland Times