VANCOUVER - Explosive lumber and panel export growth for a booming U.S. housing construction industry will help drive British Columbia exports to the U.S. by 10% next year, says a new Export Development Canada report.

"Buckle up, because B.C. exports are on a roll thanks to the imminent U.S. recovery and steady growth in the Chinese market next year," said Peter Hall, chief economist for Canada's  EDC. "Export growth in 2013 will be widespread, but explosive growth will give the forestry sector a commanding lead."

B.C's forestry sector accounts for more than 30 per cent of the province's total exports, and is forecast to see 18 per cent growth next year, following a flat 2012 performance.

"The U.S. housing market is on the move for the first time since 2006," said Hall, noting that the current 35% growth "is just the beginning, as U.S. housing starts are forecast to rise by an additional 40 per cent in 2013. This rebound is the real thing, and will give a significant boost to the province's sawmills next year and beyond." Hall also said Chinese demand will continue to add to exports of lumber and pulp.

Overall, Canada's wood products sector will see greater exports to the U.S. this year and next. Also boosting exports next year will be greater residential construction in China after property developers severely curtailed activity in 2012.

"With substantial Canadian sawmill capacity permanently closed in recent years, remaining lumber and panel producers are well positioned to take advantage of higher prices sustained by strong demand," says the 2013 export forecast. "We expect softwood lumber prices to remain sufficiently high to reduce the softwood lumber export tax and export quotas agreed to under the Softwood Lumber Agreement."

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