Chinese authorities this month lifted a two-year ban on all hardwood shipments from South Carolina and Virginia, effective Sept. 15, but said they still wouldn't allow imports of softwood lumber from those states because of ongoing concerns about pest infestation, according to an unofficial translation of a letter sent to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service office
in Beijing and obtained by American Shipper
Chinese agriculture officials banned the lumber shipments after finding nematodes in pine logs they said came from South Carolina and Virginia.
Last summer, China began a one-year pilot program allowing 57 shipments that had been fumigated with sulfuryl fluoride.
In the letter, Cheng Hongjun, deputy director general for supervision of animal and plant quarantine, said the fumigation proved effective in removing pests from hardwood, but the risk of softwood lumber carrying nematodes remained high. The agriculture inspection chief said hardwoods from the two states will be allowed entry if they undergo fumigation prior to export. APHIS recommends wood be fumigated for 24 hours to receive a phytosanitary certificate.
The letter suggested that U.S. agriculture authorities develop better sampling techniques for identifying nematode infestations in softwood, as well as a better quarantine method, such as shipping processed instead of raw lumber and using heat treatment.
Chinese authorities said further study is required to determine if sulfuryl fluoride is a scientifically acceptable substitute for methyl bromide for pest control on logs.
Officials at the ports of Virginia and Charleston, S.C., have welcomed the news from China as a potential boost to export business and logistics jobs. - Eric Kulisch