Posted: Mar 18, 2013 8:14 PM by Robin O'Day - MTN News
MISSOULA - With China's wood ban, many international buyers typically eye the Pacific Northwest and pass up Montana.
But now, Chinese and Korean visitors are exploring Big Sky Country in hopes of making some big purchases. China is the number-one importer of wood given its own logging ban, but it's currently not purchasing any lumber from Montana.
That could soon be changing.
Xu Feng, a Chinese trade organization representative, said, "People have a high interest in the purchasing the product from the Montana companies, given the quality, given the different species, given the availabilities of the Montana product."
As potential buyers move further away from the coast and deeper into Montana, some say they are finding what they are looking for: Doug fir and other types of wood to meet escalating building demand in China.
Two buyers say they've already made deals with prominent mills in western Montana.
"I've collected a lot of contacts, a lot of Montana companies have shown a strong interest in working with Chinese companies," Feng said.
M2 Green President Ray Stillwell says his Frenchtown site could see a huge jump start, and that several eager buyers approached him with serious interest.
"We made some very interesting contacts and we're going to be following up on. Not just the folks from Asia, but also the folks here in the United States. There's many synergies and we're going to pursue them all."
Stillwell says a few former negotiations stalled out when the property was being considered a Superfund site. That didn't happen, but now he says he has to make up for lost time. These face to face meetings could be a benefit to him and the wood industry in western Montana.
"Missoula is a great place to do business and we're looking forward to doing some neat things this year," Stillwell said.
Asian buyers represent more than $300 million in annual lumber imports from markets across the globe.