By Scott Lyon, Graduate Student. March 25, 2010.
The potential for US forest products in international markets such as Central America has not been historically addressed. With a combined population of more than 40 million residents, Central America offers many business opportunities for US hardwood and softwood lumber producers. Our effort will focus on the most important economies in Central America: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. We believe that the increased rates of housing, tourism infrastructure, and public infrastructure will need a massive supply of hardwood and softwood lumber that the region itself will not be able to fulfill in the near future. Also, we have found that local protectionism policies in favor of the national forests of these countries would benefit the imports of wood products, especially from the United States. The concern of harvesting tropical forests also provides an opportunity to increase sales of US temperate species. Our goal is to create an export handbook of Central America for Virginia wood products industries.
During the first six months of the project, the research team conducted a literature review and face-to-face interviews with governmental officials in Panama and Costa Rica to determine the current demand of local production, the potential for future production, and any trade barriers for new importers.