Over the past few months, EBPA has been active leading and participating in several trade events in China and Japan, including two sales missions, a research mission, the Japan Lumber Importers mission, and the Japan Home Show US pavilion. In addition, the association held seminars in Portland, OR and Seattle, WA about leading emerging international markets and changes in established international markets for US building materials. The two seminars were very well attended by representatives from building products and related service sectors.
Nine companies and two associations participated in EBPA's China mission to Chongqing and Guangzhou, China in November. EBPA cooperated with the Foreign Agriculture Service and the Department of Commerce Foreign Commercial Service to connect companies with distributors, developers, and designers. The Guangzhou seminar was particularly energetic with strong interest from local attendees.
While construction is strong in China's inland cities, distribution appears to have become increasingly focused along China's coastal cities. These coastal wholesalers are becoming the central conduit for inland sales. At the same time, the earlier cooling trend in the housing market appears to have reversed itself and Chinese imports are saw double digit gains in 2013. Jan-October 2013 imports of wood products alone reached $15.2 million, a 15% increase over 2011.
Japan's construction market is moving at a fast pace as builder and buyers rush to start projects before the proposed consumption tax is finalized. The tax will increase from 3% to 5% by April 2014 and to a proposed 10% by October 2016. According to the Japan Federation of Housing Organizations, the government is focused on improving the quality of housing, stimulating growth in the remodeling market, promoting green homes, and building homes for seniors. All bode well for high-quality, energy efficient building materials. More information about a presentation they gave at the Japan Lumber Importers Association meeting held in Tokyo in December is included in this issue.