Pakistan is the region’s leading log and lumber buyer, yet prior to 2015 most buyers were unfamiliar with U.S. softwood species. To develop the market, SEC used Emerging Markets Program funds to identify market opportunities and educate importers and end users about U.S. species. During the project SEC identified opportunities for Eastern White Pine from the Northeastern and Midwestern U.S. FAS-Islamabad used Cochran funds to host inbound buyer missions from Pakistan in 2016 and 2018 where participants learned about U.S. manufacturing processes, quality control, how to specify softwood lumber. The group also met with U.S. suppliers during receptions. When SEC and lumber importers were unable to travel due to COVID restrictions, SEC and FAS-Islamabad held virtual exchanges for U.S. and Pakistan traders.
Pakistan is particularly important to U.S. producers since many buyers prefer low grade lumber that is considered a by-product by U.S. mills. Buyers in Pakistan like the light color, easy machining, and durability of Eastern White Pine – attributes they learned about through SEC-led educational seminars, grading workshops, and visits to producers.
The group participated in meetings with the Northeastern Lumber Manufacturers Association, the central grading agency for Eastern White Pine. The group also participated in lumber mill tours, grading training, and visits to retailers and showrooms to see examples of Eastern White Pine in interior and structural applications. During the meetings, the group met with sales staff from Hancock Lumber, a leading producer and exporter of Eastern White Pine lumber.
After meeting with NELMA, the group traveled to Green Bay, Wisconsin where SEC led the group on a day-long tour and introduction to sustainable forest management and lumber processing at the Menominee Tribal-owned land and mill. The Menominee Tribe is well known for their sustainable timber management. While in Wisconsin the also group participated in a dinner and networking event with Menominee staff and other softwood and hardwood lumber suppliers. The event included a very open exchange between the U.S. and Pakistan participants and the group from Pakistan noted their great appreciation for the event.
Inbound missions such as the June 2022 Pakistan trip are invaluable for introducing international buyers to U.S. products, sustainability practices, and suppliers. They are a cost effective method for introducing groups of buyers to these concepts and to a sizable group of U.S. suppliers in a short period of time. SEC will continue to focus on inbound missions as a part of its slate of other programs to educate buyers and facilitate buyer-supplier relationships such as webinars, trade shows, and collaboration with international associations.