North American Manufacturers Look to Meet Demand for Engineered Wood in Post-Earthquake Japan
As reconstruction begins, APA helps North American manufacturers to obtain JAS certification for importing wood products.
The effort to rebuild Japan following a massive earthquake and tsunami will require a huge volume of building materials, but the extent to which North American wood structural panels will be used is difficult to predict. An opportunity exists for North American engineered wood product manufacturers to help meet increased demand, provided that they comply with rigorous regulations for imported wood products. Although few North American manufacturers had attempted to obtain JAS certification prior to the March 11, 2011 quake, APA has assisted several members in JAS accreditation in the months following the disaster.
The magnitude 9.0 earthquake—among the top ten most severe earthquakes ever recorded by seismographs—and the resulting tsunami wreaked unimaginable devastation to a large northern region of the island country. More than 400,000 people lost their homes and perhaps as many as 150,000 buildings were destroyed, according to Wood Resources International, the U.S.-based forest industry consulting firm. Estimates of recovery and reconstruction costs are expected to exceed $309 billion.
The volume of structural wood panels that will be required for rebuilding will impact demand for imported wood panels, says Charlie Barnes, International Market Director of APA.
“Reconstruction will be a huge undertaking for many years, and that will generate substantial demand for wood products,” Barnes says. “But there are also obstacles to market entry, and manufacturers must know the ropes.”
JAS certification is one obstacle that APA is helping its members to overcome. As a Registered Overseas Certification Body (ROCB) accredited by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forest and Fisheries (MAFF), APA is authorized to certify member products as meeting the JAS standard, including formaldehyde emissions limits considered among the strictest anywhere in the world.
Only one APA member plywood mill and four APA member OSB mills were JAS certified at the time of the earthquake, as were seven APA member glulam plants. Since then, seven additional APA member mills have achieved JAS certification, and more are currently undergoing the certification process.
In addition to JAS certification accreditation, APA has a longstanding technical, regulatory and market development presence in Japan that can be of considerable value to member companies looking to gain Japanese market entry or broaden their foothold in the country. APA maintains a Canadian Oriented Strand Board (OSB)-focused Office in Tokyo and also is a partner with the Softwood Export Council and Southern Pine Council in support of an American Softwood Office, also in Tokyo. That presence gives APA an ability to serve as a conduit for requests from the Japanese construction community to supply structural wood products, a function that has increased since the earthquake, Barnes noted.
For more information, read the APA News Release: Opportunities and Challenges for North American Engineered Wood Product Manufacturers in Post-Earthquake Japan
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