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Japan quake rebuilding drives demand for New Zealand timber


WELLINGTON, Oct. 6 (Xinhua) -- New Zealands timber industry has received a boost in demand from the reconstruction of areas affected by the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan, although China continues to dominate demand, New Zealands Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) announced Thursday.

Log exports reached an estimated 6.9 million cubic meters during the April-June quarter, according to the MAFs forestry production and trade figures.

It was the ninth consecutive quarter of growth underpinned by the large volume of log exports, said Andrew Doube, MAFs acting manager of sector infrastructure.

Demand from China accounted for 59.6 percent of total log export volumes in the quarter, compared with 53.7 percent in the same quarter last year.

Sawn timber production, affected by high domestic log prices and weak domestic and international demand, fell by 7.8 percent to 990,000 cubic meters during the quarter.

A pickup in demand from Japan, where wood was traditionally used for housing construction, had helped push up total panel production by 9.9 percent to 516,000 cubic meters.

Wood panel exports to Japan accounted for 48.2 percent of total panel export volumes this quarter, up from 40 percent in the June 2010 quarter. Exports to Japan of fiberboard, plywood and particleboard were also up.

"Demand from Japan is expected to be strong over the year, as the rebuild of affected areas gathers momentum," said Doube.

The earthquakes in New Zealands South Island region of Canterbury since September last year had so far had no discernable effect on total sawn timber production figures, but demand was expected to lift once the rebuild of affected areas commenced.

"We expect a lift in production resulting both from increasing demand for traditional uses like residential house framing and also for the construction of multi-storey wooden buildings using the latest advances in building technology and design. MAF sees an exciting opportunity for the wood processing sector to build some world-leading, iconic, multi-storey wooden structures in Christchurch," said Doube.