Forest products trade and marketing
The forest products industry has vigorously opened up for global trade because the prevailing business model is built on capturing comparative advantages at the right cost. Many emerging countries possess valued forests, aspire for more processing industry and employment, and seek added value to their raw materials. International investors in the forest products industry are their willing allies but they want to ascertain predictable macroeconomic conditions, transparent fiscal incentives and abundant labour – and preferably the rule of law and a sustainable wood supply to start with. A dynamic domestic market is nowadays becoming an important factor in attracting foreign investments, and many emerging economies harbour bustling urban markets short of high-quality forest products.
Increasing trade in forest products has supported economic growth and eradication of poverty in a number of emerging countries. But trading out of poverty has proven difficult and it has led to further marginalization and events of misconduct in some countries. Safeguards must be firmly put in place to ensure that trade is based on legal and sustainable forest use, fair labour conditions and equitable sharing of benefits. Good governance is essential in setting the rules for sustainable production and trade.
FAO is supporting country efforts to develop the sustainable and legal trade of forest products, with the following objectives:
- Producers in emerging countries gain improved access to quantitative and qualitative analyses on forest products trade and marketing issues including tariffs, impediments for market access and other trade restrictions.
- Policymakers and the private sector benefit from a wider coverage and a structured interpretation of forest products trade statistics and a higher degree of market transparency feeding into their forest decision making.
- Producers in emerging countries are better up-to-date on forest certification and legality verification, and understand more profoundly their implications for sustainable forest product trade, market access and product promotion.
- National and sub-national governments, local organizations, communities and other rights holders have the capacity to capture opportunities from forest carbon markets.
- Producers in emerging countries know how to apply proven marketing strategies and practices in their local situations, including green marketing in the low-carbon economy, branding and ethical/fair trade tools, and enter into electronic marketplaces and social media networks.
More recently the forest sector has been entrusted with climate change mitigation targets of global importance. This has elevated forest issues higher on the political agenda than maybe ever before. Forest products embody and recycle large amounts of carbon, and trade moves products and their sinks around the world. This complex function will undoubtedly remain under a lively discourse in shaping the future role of forests in low-carbon economies and in the run-up to a global climate accord. Integrating concrete demands for carbon offsets in forests with the conservation of biodiversity and protection of watersheds, is a challenging equation in a world where consumption of forest products will continue to rise.