FIJI TO EXPORT WOOD CHIPS TO JAPAN

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Three-year agreement worth $89 million

By Monika Singh SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Dec. 8, 2010, 2010) - A three-year agreement and Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signed yesterday will see Fiji export more woodchips and earn export revenue of FJ$165 million [US$89.3 million] in the next two years.

The MOU was signed between the chairman of Fiji Pine Limited, Viliame Naupoto and Japanese buyers Itochu Corporation at Fijian Holdings Limited (FHL).

FHL Managing Director, Sereana Qoro said the woodchip sale agreement meant Fiji would be able to increase its woodchip shipment from a minimum of seven shipments to 12 shipments from next year.

"In terms of business this is a very special day because the agreement will mean we can export a minimum of nine shipments and a maximum of 12 to 16 shipments of woodchips in 2012," said Ms Qoro.

She said at current woodchip price the export would bring in between FJ$52 million [US$28.2 million] FJ$72 million [US$39 million] of export revenue next year and between FJ$72 million [US$39 million] to $93 million [US$50.3 million] in 2012.

"The first shipment will be in April next year and it will be from Wairiki port which is being set up with a chipping plant and other works are being done on the port."

Ms Qoro said the Japanese company waited four years for the Wairiki port to be completed so they could start buying woodchips. She said Fiji had enough pine to meet the demands of the overseas market.

Meanwhile Mr. Naupoto said the agreement had a two-fold effect on Fiji's pine industry.

He said Fiji would get a market for woodchip and the Japanese buyers would provide technical research to find out if other tree species had any potential for woodchip.

"This is to diversify business and to explore other business prospects and Itochu Corporation will provide us with the technical assistance to plant other forest species, he said. In addition to increase in shipment the mill on Wairiki will be a catalyst because it will activate other employment areas. The mill will need loggers and other employees to make the mill a success and that is where the catalyst effect will come in," he said.

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