SHIJIAZHUANG, China (GNB) – Premier David Alward announced an agreement today aimed at accelerating the growth of value-added wood exports to China.

The agreement in principle will allow the construction of a wood demonstration project in Hebei Province.The project will help showcase New Brunswick's value-added wood products industry to potential Chinese developers and investors.

“This agreement will help open the door for New Brunswick firms to export building materials to China, including lumber and value-added wood products and services,” said Alward. “This housing-demonstration project supports our plan to rebuild New Brunswick's economy and create jobs by encouraging more firms to enter emerging markets and focus on growth opportunities through value-added wood exports.”

The proposed project includes the construction of up to five wood frame structured homes at the Hebei Building and Research Academy in Shijiazhuang, the capital city of Heibei. The majority of the building materials and components in the homes will come from New Brunswick companies.

The agreement in principle follows a Memorandum of Understanding and Co-operation on the development of Green Wood Frame Structure Building Industry, signed in November 2011 by Economic Development Minister Paul Robichaud.

“Our government has identified value-added wood products as one of six priority growth sectors for the future, and we are committed to working with industry partners to rebuild New Brunswick's economy and create jobs,” said Alward. “New Brunswick and the Province of Hebei have a long-standing relationship and I am happy that we are able to partner again to grow both of our economies.”

China is undergoing a housing boom. Last year China's new housing starts exceeded 12 million units which was an increase of 34 per cent compared to the previous year. The City of Shijiazhuang is planning to build 500,000 units of social housing by 2015.

Hebei Province is strategically located to provide opportunities to demonstrate New Brunswick's knowledge and expertise in the wood frame building and construction industry. It is surrounded by the provinces of Henan, Shandong and Shanxi with a population of about 400 million. It is a coastal province with two container ports and two bulk ports, making it a strategic location for lumber exports to China's fast-growing north region.

The agreement was announced during Alward’s first official visit to Hebei, New Brunswick’s sister province in China since 2001. He is leading a delegation of 13 New Brunswick companies to Shijiazhuang, Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu. Alward will also participate in meeting other premiers as part of the Council of the Federation’s China mission.

The following companies are participating in the economic development trade mission:

●    Industrial Rubber (Bathurst)
●    Wood Science and Technology Centre (Fredericton)
●    Prima Innovations Inc. (Edmundston)
●    C-Therm Technologies (Fredericton)
●    Remsoft (Fredericton)
●    Groupe Savoie (Saint-Quentin)
●    Canadian Syrup Inc. (Elgin)
●    Corruven Canada (Kedgwick)
●    S.K. Export Inc. (Saint-Quentin)
●    Design Right Canada (Saint John)
●    Riverbend Log Homes (Nackawic)
●    Tire Recycling Atlantic Canada (Minto)
●    Xplornet Communications (Woodstock)