29 April, 2015
Senator Richard Colbeck, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, has recently returned from a forest industry delegation to Japan and China where he promoted the attributes of Australia's sustainable forest industry.
The week-long Forest and Forest Industry Market Development Mission focused primarily on promoting Australia's sustainable forest and timber products industries to the Japanese and Chinese markets, which are key destinations for our forestry exports.
"The delegation was a valuable opportunity to meet with key government and industry representatives to highlight the attributes of our forest industry, gain an insight into their forestry sectors and discuss innovations that are occurring in their countries," Senator Colbeck said.
"It was interesting to discuss the Japanese Government's adoption of a policy to consider timber ahead of other materials for the construction of all public buildings. It's great to see timber being considered as the building material of the 21st century and this innovative thinking may be a sign of things to come in Australia."
Australia has recently finalised free trade agreements with Japan and China and Senator Colbeck said both countries showed an interested in increasing collaboration, communication and investment in Australia.
"We also had productive discussions with China about a joint approach to stamping out illegal logging," he said.
Senator Colbeck said it was frustrating to see the damage that campaigns by radical ENGOs had done to the market for Australian timber products, especially in Japan.
"It was concerning to see that radical ENGOs have been targeting customers with misinformation about the status of Australian timbers and forcing them to look elsewhere for timber products. The irony is that timber products from less sustainable forests have replaced Tasmanian timber in some cases," he said.
"This provided the delegation with an opportunity to highlight the sustainable management of Australia's forests and the value of our products, which is well understood in both countries."
Senator Colbeck also met with government and industry representatives to discuss fisheries and agriculture issues.
"This trip was part of the government's efforts to ensure that the opportunities presented by the ChAFTA and JAEPA can be realised by Australian exporters and producers.
"I look forward to the deepening of commercial relationships started during this trip resulting in increased exports for Australia and our farmers, fishers and foresters," Senator Colbeck said.