We have 10 percent of the world’s forests within our borders — almost 350 million hectares. Every year we harvest less than one percent of those trees to fuel a forestry sector which directly and indirectly employs over 600,000 people. By value, Canada is the world’s leading exporter of softwood lumber, newsprint, and wood pulp.

The weight of the world’s economic poles is shifting from the shores of the Atlantic to the waters of the Pacific. We are already seeing the consequences of this great shift. Canada’s wood product shipments to China have increased by almost 1,000 per cent since 2007. Approximately 25 percent of B.C.’s softwood lumber production now goes to China.

The 21st century will be the Pacific Century. As a Pacific nation, Canada will lead the pack in wood products.

Our government acknowledges two realities. First, forestry is an important driver of jobs and growth — especially here in British Columbia.

Innovation in forestry

Second, the future of Canadian forestry depends on two factors: innovation and market diversification. To remain a world leader, we need to stay ahead of the curve.

Since 2006 we’ve invested approximately $1.8 billion to do just that.

We’ve worked with the Government of B.C. to open market development offices in China and India. These offices are showcasing Canadian wood products and attracting investment to our shores.

We have signed free trade agreements (FTAs) with more than 10 countries and are negotiating 60 more, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership — a major Pacific trading bloc. We have concluded a comprehensive trade agreement with the European Union, the most ambitious free trade deal in Canada’s history. With a market of 500 million people and annual economic activity of $17 trillion, the EU is the largest economy in the world.

And Economic Action Plan 2014 proposes to provide $90.4 million over four years for continued support of the Investments in Forest Industry (IFIT) program. First established in Budget 2010, the program aims to demonstrate new Canadian technologies that will boost productivity and create higher-class forest products.

This is an unprecedented investment in innovation to maximize the value and range of Canadian wood products.

The 21st century will be the Pacific Century. As a Pacific nation, Canada will lead the pack in wood products. Our government is doing its part to promote the innovation and diversification needed for Canadian forestry to thrive.