The American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) 26th South East Asia (SEA) and China convention was held at JW Marriot Hotel Chengdu on 8 Sep 2023. With the theme ‘Sustainable American hardwood – the future of our living environment’, the convention was supported by Chengdu Furniture Chamber of Commerce and had 300 architects, interior designers, timber contractors, traders, importers and wholesalers as well as over 20 AHEC member companies. They explored the sustainable development of American hardwood, the future of low-carbon timber grading rules to promote application of American hardwood in architecture and interior design.
Several industry veterans spoke at the convention such as Michael Snow, executive director of AHEC; John Chan, regional director of AHEC SEA and China; Chris Federick, director of ATO, Beijing; Rupert Oliver, AHEC consultant on sustainability issues; Gu Hao Dong, president of Chengdu Furniture Industrial Chamber of Commerce; Gu Jian Xia, executive chairman of Jiangxi Furniture Association; James Lu, principal and managing director of Perkins&Will and Dana Spessert, chief inspector and dean of education of the Grading School of the National Hardwood Lumber Association.
“Wood is recognised as a key material for creating a low-carbon environment. It has a positive impact on the environment by substituting environmentally damaging sources of material and energy such as plastic and fossil fuels,” Snow said. “American hardwood is sustainable, with treatments recognised by sustainable forest certifications.” He added that data from life cycle assessments, American Hardwood Environmental Profiles (AHEPs), and the US Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) programme. Creating furniture from American hardwood reportedly results in minimal carbon production, aligning it with environmental goals.
With regards to the export situation of American hardwood, Snow said that due to factors of the global economic slowdown such as rising inflation, labour supply and geopolitical conflicts, the export value of American hardwood products to China and SEA was up slightly by 0.3% YoY to over US$1.77bn in 2022. “In Q1 of 2023, US hardwood exports to China and South East Asian markets totalled $355.9m and $71.9m respectively,” he said. “Among them, the most popular US hardwood species in China by value were red oak, walnut, cherry, white oak, ash and yellow poplar [which] accounted for over 91% of the total hardwood lumber exports to China.”