A forest industry delegation to Japan and China promoting the attributes of Australia’s sustainable forest industry has just returned from a week-long mission.

The 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 Richard 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.

The delegation was provided with an opportunity to highlight the sustainable management of Australia’s forests and the value of Australian products in both countries.

But for the Australian Furniture industry the issues surrounding illegal logging have the potential for serious impact.

‘Whilst we support the philosophy behind the illegal logging issue, a number of AFA Members have recently been audited by the Department and are finding the process to be extremely onerous,’ says AFA CEO, Patrizia Torelli. ‘The issue of compliance and administration is seemingly falling squarely on the shoulders of Australian businesses and not the government department charged with the responsibility.

We intend to initiate some dialogue with the relevant parties to ensure that as the legal requirements are met by our Members, they are not placing undue pressure on businesses already stretched to the limit in terms of compliance and reporting,’ she concluded.