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“We’ve seen high highs and low lows,”: Council of Forest Industries President recaps wild 2020

(Files by Brendan Pawliw-MyPGNow)

The BC forest sector is hoping for a little less volatility heading into 2021 as we slowly find our way out of the pandemic.

Council of Forest Industries President, Susan Yurkovich said a price spike on the lumber side, was followed by a shaky year for pulp.

“It’s been a very tough road for the pulp sector but we are starting to see some signs of improvement in China, which is the largest buyer of our product, and prices starting to improve to a little bit we hope, we are moving into a period where we have a little less volatility.”

“It’s been up and it’s been down and I would say it’s been a roller coaster ride as it has been for many people.”

Heading into 2021, Yurkovich believes housing demand south of the border should remain strong, which is good news for BC lumber products.

“We’ve got high levels of single-family homes being built in the United States after many years since 2008 following the financial crisis, we have not seen much housing demand but as we look, we have seen it ticking up and it’s back to about 1.5-million housing starts.”

Northern BC is expected to play a big role in the forestry sector’s rebound heading into the new year after experiencing intermittent shutdowns during the early days of the pandemic.

“I think as we move into 2021 and as we move towards economic recovery I see the industry and folks in your region playing an important role. I mean, we have been able to largely after the initial shut down get back up and running and operate safely.”

“We’ve seen some high highs and low lows in terms of starting the year coming off 2019, which was a difficult year for our industry along with the first quarter as well, and then we were shut down by the pandemic as everybody else was, basically all of our mills were shut and then we had a run on lumber as more people were staying in their homes.”

Yurkovich admits while they continue to repair their relationship with the United States with President-elect Joe Biden and his administration, COFI’s international markets are slowly ramping back up.

“Fortunately, life has returned to near-normal in China so our office is up and running and able to do things there. We’ve had to delay some projects for sure and we haven’t been able to go into the market because travel has been curtailed, however, we do have people working on the ground in Beijing, Tokyo, Shanghai, and Seoul as our activities have been able to carry on in those markets.”

COFI’s 2021 convention, which is slated in April will be virtual.

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