Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It's my pleasure to be here for the second time. I hope your vote went okay the other day.
I'm going to start off by basically talking about the supply chain, the forest supply chain. It's relevant in respect of talking about secondary supply chain products. Essentially, in the forest products industry, the supply chain starts with our forest management. Of course, Canada leads the world in sustainable forest management, and that has to do with the fact that we have strong support from both the provincial governments and the federal government on the research side, and we have strong regulatory and legislative frameworks in which to operate. We also have a customer base that demands that our products be sustainable.
You really can't talk about secondary supply chain products without talking about the primary industry first. It is the primary industry that breaks down products that are then fed down the supply chain to the secondary folks. In that respect, as you do your deliberations, you should be alive to the fact that we are engaged in a dispute with our American friends around softwood lumber.
On the coast of British Columbia especially, that is an important issue for us both at the primary and the secondary levels because we produce very high-value products off the coast. In fact, 80% of what goes into the United States is cedar products and they are very high-value products. The whitewood products that go in there tend to be shop-grade products that get further manufactured by customers and the supply chain south of the border. As your government deliberates on softwood lumber and tries to negotiate an agreement, you should be aware of ensuring that the high-value sector on the coast of British Columbia gets adequate access to the U.S. market, especially if we're in some type of quota arrangement.
The way it works here, generally primary producers make the products, which then get sold here to secondary producers who manufacture all manner of things. My friend here does some amazing engineering feats with those products, but he'll be able to talk about that himself.
In terms of economic and employment benefits, the primary industry off the coast of British Columbia is a $6-billion-a-year proposition. It employs 40,000 people. Interesting for your deliberations, as many of those products move down the supply chain to secondary producers, that business in British Columbia on the coast is about a $1.6-billion proposition and employs an additional 3,000 people. Primary and secondary industries are interlinked, and without the primary breakdown, you don't get a lot of secondary products, especially on the solid wood side.
That goes to your economic and employment impacts question.
I'd like to talk a bit about the barriers and opportunities. For sure we are on the cusp of a whole range of exciting opportunities in the forest industry. We have next-generation products such as cross-laminated timber and other engineered wood products that don't necessarily fit in a box. We have all manner of next-generation products on the pulp and paper side, from biofuels to nanocrystalline cellulose to cellulose fibres, lignin, these kinds of things. The world is using wood in ways we never imagined, and in Canada, we need to be ensuring that we are doing what we can in terms of research and development and regulatory processes to facilitate the advancement of the use of wood in these exciting next-generation applications, which by definition might be what you're calling secondary supply chain products.
That is the opportunity. However, I'm going to tell you quite frankly what the barrier is. In this country, it is hard to make a business case for investment in the natural resources sector. We face uncertainty in costs. We face uncertainty in access to fibre.
Many of those barriers or issues that preclude being able to make a business case for investment revolve around things that governments do. There are regulatory things. There is species at risk. There is reconciliation with first nations. There is tax and economics, and then there is that, always, forestry always tends to be a political football.
Those issues are what I think your committee needs to turn its mind to, because it's very difficult for CEOs to go into boardrooms today and say they want to invest $100 million in a sawmill or some next-generation product, which carries all kinds of risks to begin with, and then not be able to turn to their boards of directors and investors and say where they're going to get the fibre to build these things and what the cost of that fibre is going to be.
Having said that, and not being a guy who has a black cloud over his head, there are a number of things the federal government is doing that we should celebrate and ensure continues.
You have the EMO program, or the expanding market opportunities program. That program leverages federal government, provincial government, and forest industry money to promote our products offshore. Not only does it promote our products offshore, it promotes Canadian technology, building systems, and expertise in offshore markets. That's a very good program that should continue to get funding.
You have the investments in the forest industry transformation fund, or IFIT. That fund is spurring innovation into new and secondary products in the pulp and paper sector.
You have your superclusters initiative. Here in Vancouver, one of the superclusters includes the forest industry, and that's where we're going to drive transformative change as we see the digital economy and the big data economy hit the forest sector. There are amazing opportunities for us to reduce our costs, increase utilization, and use big data and analytics to help us improve our businesses.
There is also the green construction through wood program that's part of the softwood lumber assistance package, and that helps us promote the use of wood as a low-carbon GHG energy-efficient material, which is one of the platforms for the evolution of building with wood in this country, in North America. As we speak we are doing the same thing with our friends in Japan and China.
As my day job, I'm the CEO of the Coast Forest Products Association, but in that role I'm also the president of the Canada Wood Group, which does the offshore market access and market promotion program for the industry in offshore markets like Japan, China, Korea, India, and places like that. We are in discussions with the governments of China and Japan about how to bring our technologies and products into those marketplaces so that they can begin to build with wood, much as we have built with wood here. That speaks to not only primary products but also secondary products like CLT and other engineered wood products and, just as importantly, the value-added technologies and building systems we have here in Canada.
I'm going to end it there by saying that we are on the cusp of some amazing things. We have a very mature, established supply chain here in British Columbia that centres around the primary industry, and the spinoffs from that are significant for the secondary wood products industry. Our opportunities moving forward certainly are around new products or innovative applications that exist.
Thank you very much for your time.