The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) 22nd Southeast Asia and Greater China Convention was successfully held at The Westin Qingdao Hotel from June 22-23 in China. Over 400 delegates and more than 40 AHEC hardwood exporting members companies attended the convention, including several world renowned designers. This year’s theme, “Toward a Sustainable Low Carbon Future: New Technologies and Applications for American Hardwoods”, was aimed at promoting American hardwood for Asia’s architectural, design and manufacturing industries.
Invited speakers included Mr. William G. Verzani, Deputy Director of Guangzhou Agricultural Trade Office, Mr. Dave Bramlage, Chairman, American Hardwood Export Council, Mr. John Chan, Regional Director, American Hardwood Export Council Southeast Asia & Greater China, Ms. Lorna Christie, Executive Director of National Hardwood Lumber Association, Mr. Sun Jie, Chairman of Shandong Furniture Association & President of Yantai Jisi Group, Mr. Dana Spessert, Chief Inspector, National Hardwood Lumber Association, Mr. Aaron Leri, Sales and Marketing Director, AA Corporation Ltd, and Mr. Silas Chiow, Director of SOM China. The speakers shared insights on the latest business opportunities, global trends and signs of sustainable growth for American hardwood.
In 2016, exports of American hardwood to Greater China and Southeast Asia totaled US$1.6B and US$290M respectively. Compared to the first quarter of 2016, exports has increased by 25.7 percent to US$571 million among Southeast Asia & Greater China in the first quarter of 2017. This number represents 60 percent of all American hardwood exported globally. Increased market demand benefited from China’s desire for hardwood furniture and the global appreciation of Chinese and Southeast Asian manufacturing.
Michael Snow, Executive Director of the American Hardwood Export Council, introduced the current situation of global exports for American hardwood. Based on data from 2014 to 2016, the US ranked first as largest exporting country of temperate forest hardwood with the amount of exports double that of the second ranking country, Thailand. In recent years, the five most important exporting destinations for AHEC have been Greater China, the European Union (EU), Canada, Vietnam and Mexico.
With the Chinese government’s commitment to environmental management and a push for low carbon lifestyles, the future is bright for American hardwood in the Chinese market. According to the American Hardwood Environmental Profile System published by AHEC, American hardwood is superior for its carbon storage. This year, Mr. Snow emphasized how to scientifically manage and broadly apply American hardwood in efforts to reduce carbon emissions. For 17 years, Michael Snow has been a leader and partner of AHEC, while witnessing the dramatic growth of American hardwood imports between China and the US.
According to data from the China Furniture Association, companies with annual output of more than RMB20 million reported domestic sales of furniture products increased from 74.3 percent in 2011 to 78.94 percent (YoY) in 2016.
China’s economy is still in an upward phase and should maintain a growth rate of around or slightly above 6.5 percent in 2017. The new ban on logging of temperate forests in three northeastern provinces of China this year will push up demand for American hardwood, compensating for a weaker Chinese renminbi currency, a disadvantage for imports. The growth in domestic consumption of furniture is playing an important role in strengthening China’s number one position in furniture production in the world, compensating for weaker export markets in the years to come.
The northeast province of Shandong is currently one of the top three import provinces for furniture. Shandong is also the biggest furniture manufacturing province in China. This convention is supported by Shandong Furniture Association, Shandong Decoration Industry Association, Qingdao Timber Trade Association, Qingdao Furniture Association, Shanghai Timber, Trade Association and China Institute of Interior Designers.
Mr. John Chan, Regional Director, American Hardwood Export Council Southeast Asia & Greater China said, “Improving the design and application of American hardwood in furniture manufacturing and interior design is our mission. American red and white oak has been popular both in Southeast Asia and Greater China. Those two types of oak wood are also the most common tree species in the US, and at the same time, preferred by many designers for construction and design.”
Smart collaboration of American hardwood with furniture manufacturing and design in Asia is the continued mission for AHEC. Silas Chiow, AIA, Director of SOM China and Aaron Leri, Sales and Marketing Director, AA Corporation Ltd were also present at the event to share their expertise of building world renowned buildings and award winning interior design work.
AHEC also hosted a mini trade fair, offering a platform for over 40 AHEC members to exhibit and connect with local businesses, dealers and manufacturers.