Virginia's important forestry industry contributes more than $24 billion in revenue to the state's economy each year. Part of that is in rough logs so, in April 2011 when China banned both hardwood and softwood log exports from Virginia and South Carolina, it was no small matter for the Commonwealth.
Fortunately, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell has now announced that following a year-long promotional, research and education effort, China has agreed to a six-month pilot project to begin reopening the Chinese market to Virginia's log exporters. Under the project Virginia logs will be allowed to re-enter China beginning June 1 via certain designated ports and with enhanced pest treatments and testing protocols. Details are still being finalized.
"I'm pleased that our focused efforts with the Chinese government, our federal partners, and Virginia log exporters have finally yielded positive results," says McDonnell. "China is our second largest agricultural trade partner and the ban was negatively impacting both Virginia's exporters and our valued customers in China. My administration will continue working with all involved parties to see that this pilot program is successful and eventually leads to full open market access."
When the Chinese first initiated the ban Governor McDonnell extended an invitation to technical experts from China to visit Virginia, in order for them to see first-hand how logs are harvested, inventoried, and undergo treatment or testing to prevent the unintended transport of pest organisms. The McDonnell administration also worked closely with federal agencies involved in trade negotiations with China, including United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Agriculture Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, pushing to keep resolution of the log ban a top priority for federal trade negotiators.
Virginia Secretary of Agriculture Todd Haymore notes, "A key portion of the Governor's strategic initiative to increase Virginia agricultural exports is working directly with foreign governments, our federal partners, and the private sector to have trade barriers removed or lowered in markets where our products have no or restricted access. The easing of the export ban on our logs by the Chinese is a good example of this strategy in action. However, we must keep working to see the ban removed in full."
In 2011 the value of Virginia's log exports into the global marketplace was estimated at nearly $57 million. That was down $10 million from 2010, however. Prior to the ban, Virginia was a major East Coast supplier of logs to China, the world's largest log importer.