As noted earlier, exports from the South Pacific region are dominated by unprocessed logs and semi-processed woodchips. The dominant market for these is Japan, followed at some distance by Korea. Most other Asian markets take smaller quantities of logs, particularly from New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
However, beyond these exports, the South Pacific is predominantly a self-contained market. Excluding Japan, Australia and New Zealand are respectively the major forestry export market for the other. They are also, by far, the predominant export markets for processed products from the other countries of the South Pacific. New Zealand, Australia and Fiji provide most of the sawn timber and panel import requirements of the Island countries, and probably supply the majority of paper requirements (though no statistics are available for these). The majority of processed forest production surplus to South Pacific requirements is from New Zealand and this is largely exported to Asia and the United States.
Australia and New Zealand import significant quantities of paper and paperboard from Europe, North America and Asia. Australia also imports significant, but declining, quantities of sawn timber from the United States, Canada and Malaysia.
The most significant development over the coming fifteen years will be Australia achieving nominal self sufficiency in wood production. As noted this will create a significant softwood sawn timber surplus in the region and necessitate New Zealand, Australia and Fiji seeking new markets for particularly sawn timber production.
The most important regional organisation in the South Pacific is the South Pacific Forum. Forestry issues, especially the exploitation of tropical forests, have been highlighted at recent meetings. At the 25th meeting in 1994 an agreement to draft a Code of Conduct for logging in the South Pacific was reached. The Code sets minimum standards which will allow selected forests to be harvested with the minimum of adverse impacts. The Code was ratified by Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Fiji and Vanuatu.
Most intra-regional trade is governed by the South Pacific Regional Trade and Economic Co-operation Agreement (SPARTECA). SPARTECA was established in 1981 to assist in easing import restrictions on imports of Island goods into New Zealand and Australia in an attempt to adjust the massive trade imbalance that exists. In 1987 all duties and quotas on Island goods were removed. A problem with SPARTECA is the large differentials in economic power between the largest and smallest Island nations. The Closer Economic Relations Agreement (a free-trade agreement) between New Zealand and Australia is a major determinant of trade patterns in the region. It will become of particular significance in the forestry sector as Australia moves toward self-sufficiency in forest products in that it is likely to assist New Zealand to continue to supply sawn timber and other forest products to Australia, thereby forcing some Australian producers to seek markets off-shore.
Environmental issues in the South Pacific are generally handled under the South Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP). SPREP was established in 1982 as a result of an increasing number of environmental problems being raised at the South Pacific Forum. Its major contribution to forestry thus far is in a general agreement on the need for regional cooperation to achieve sustainable resource management.
In terms of international forestry organisations, Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Solomon Islands and Western Samoa are members of the Asia-Pacific Forestry Commission and these countries with the addition of Cook Islands, Tonga and Vanuatu are members of FAO. The ITTO is the other forestry organisation which is of significance in the region and Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, and Fiji are member countries.