For the US hardwood industry, "globalization" is more than an abstract concept; it is a concrete reality influencing business decisions daily.

We are now by far the biggest international hardwood supplier, accounting for nearly one quarter of global trade.

Our exports have doubled in four years and nearly 50% of our graded hardwood lumber is today sold abroad.

Globalization has of course meant the migration of manufacturing from the West, but it has also led to unprecedented growth in global purchasing power. Indeed, it is now clear that much of the increased demand for hardwood products — including finished products — is coming from outside the US, especially Asia’s rapidly growing economies.

In terms of promotion, therefore, it is important that our industry recognizes and targets not only the high-volume re-export manufacturing sectors of today and tomorrow (the "next China"), we must identify new market opportunities within so-called "mature" markets such as the EU.

AHEC’s programmes aim to do both, providing an array of information to overseas importers, distributors, specifiers and end users. For 2015-16, we have a four-part strategy designed to "grow the overseas pie" for US hardwood exporters.

We’re seeking new markets. Where there is limited understanding of US hardwoods, most notably inland China, India and the Middle East, we’ll continue to push demand by providing technical information, trade servicing and technical seminars to importing and manufacturing industries. In more mature markets, the focus will be to pull demand by targeting specifiers and manufacturers through a multi-pronged basket of activities, including demonstration projects, design/ architectural seminars, and a targeted PR campaign.

We’ll promote new uses and applications within existing markets. By "new markets" we mean more than just new geographical regions. We also mean new market segments, such as hardwood use in structural applications through CLT development, or the exterior application potential for thermally modified or treated hardwoods.

In 2015 AHEC will continue to be actively involved in identifying and exploiting these and other market possibilities.

We will continue to extol timber’s environmental credentials. To this end, 2015 marks the official launch of the American Hardwood Environmental Profile (AHEP) an environmental profiling ‘tool’ that will combine legality information (for meeting EUTR and Lacey Act requirements), sustainability data from the US Forest Service and life cycle assessment impacts from AHEC research.

The AHEP makes it possible to produce, at the push of a button, a two-page profile specific to every container of US hardwood exported. At the same time, a multi-pronged PR campaign will continue to target architects, designers and consumers with information on US hardwood forest management as well as the environmental attributes of American hardwoods.

We’ll create Networking Opportunities for US Exporters. 2015 will also see AHEC create a number of opportunities for US exporters to engage with overseas buyers. US hardwood pavilions will be organized at leading global trade shows such as Interzum Guangzhou, the Dubai Wood Show, SylvaWood Shanghai, and Intermob Turkey and VietnamWood.

AHEC will also sponsor Conventions in China and Mexico and host dozens of seminars and networking receptions around the globe.