|FOREST PRODUCTS MARKET NEWS - FEBRUARY 2000|
|FAS AND U.S. INDUSTRY REPRESENTATIVES TACKLE
JAPANESE REGULATIONS ON WOOD PRODUCTS/HOUSING
By Casey Bean, Agricultural Attaché, FAS/Tokyo
On February 23, 2000, Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) and U.S. wood industry representatives held technical discussions with Ministry of Construction (MOC) and Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries (MAFF) officials. As a result, the Government of Japan is considering U.S. requests to ease restrictions on the certification of wood products (Registered Certification Organizations) and regarding various aspects of the revised Building Standard Law (BSL) and the newly promulgated Housing Quality Assurance Law (HQAL). The following day, during the 6th Housing Experts Group meeting, U.S. Trade Representative, FAS, and Department of Commerce officials pressed MOC officials for changes on broader housing sector regulations in government-to-government discussions.
The timing for these talks coincides with the Government of Japans Public Comment Period on these new building code regulations. During February 10-March 9, 2000, MOC is accepting comments on the HQAL, and the comment period on the revised, "performance-based" BSL is February 15-March 14, 2000. FAS/Japan and the U.S. wood industry have arranged English translations of key sections of the BSL for use by the U.S.-side, and the U.S. Embassys Office of Agricultural Affairs is coordinating the submission of the U.S. industry comments. On June 10, 2000, MOC will implement the revised BSL, so the "window" to influence policy changes is only open briefly.
The changes in Japans regulatory environment make it imperative that U.S. companies understand the process and the impact on exported wood products. Questions on the public comment process, the BSL, the HQAL, and wood product certification to Japanese Agricultural Standards (JAS) should be directed to FAS/Japan at firstname.lastname@example.org or to the American Forest and Paper Associations Tokyo office at email@example.com.
The Japanese Government recognizes the key role that housing plays in kick-starting Japans huge economy. Broader policy measures taken in recent years to stimulate housing investment by consumers include changes to mortgage loan policies. During 1999, a reversal in the decline in housing construction resulted, but the United States must keep encouraging Japan through discussions and deregulation to further ease restrictions on the construction of wood structures and bring fire codes in line with international standards and practices. Thus, the wood product/housing regulatory picture is an important thrust of FAS/Japans efforts in concert with US wood industry associations to increase the volume and types of U.S. wood products used in Japanese homes, apartments buildings, and municipal structures.
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|Last modified: Friday, January 19, 2007|