Title page for ETD etd-04082008-204445

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Perera, Rangika Thilaksri
Author's Email Address rperer3@lsu.edu
URN etd-04082008-204445
Title An Overview of the Wood Product Import Sector in the United States with an Emphasis on Opportunities for Sri Lankan Exporters
Degree Master of Science (M.S.)
Department Renewable Natural Resources
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Richard P. Vlosky Committee Chair
Cornelis F. de Hoop Committee Member
Michael A. Dunn Committee Member
Todd F. Shupe Committee Member
  • U.S. wood product importers
  • Forest certification
  • Sri Lanka wood product exporters
Date of Defense 2008-04-02
Availability unrestricted
The U.S. has dramatically altered its wood product imports and exports during the past few years, and at present, it is the leading wood product importer in the world. An understanding of market structures, factors in selecting foreign suppliers and the emphasis they place on environmental issues/certification are critical to understand from the perspective of wood products importers in the U.S.

Sri Lanka exports wood products to U.S. markets. Sri Lanka’s wood product manufacturing sector is characterized by small companies, low volumes of production, inefficient processing techniques, and outdated processing equipment. However, Sri Lankan wood products are generally of good quality. Given sufficient institutional and technological assistance, this sector has potential to grow. In order to derive maximum benefits from emerging global markets and opportunities, it is important to identify the current trade and development barriers that exist in Sri Lanka from the perspective of wood product exporters.

Two studies were conducted for this thesis. First, a study of U.S. wood products importers was conducted using a mail survey and the second study surveyed Sri Lankan wood products exporters via personal interviews. Results identify three wood product importer segments in the U.S. market. Although these three segments did not differ in terms of sources of information they use or buyer selection criteria, they differed significantly on their emphasis on environmental claims/certification, consistent supply and fair prices in foreign buyer selection. Certification and marketing, product attributes, client contact, supply of quality products, and timber species and supplier reputation are the factors valued most by U.S importers when selecting foreign suppliers. A plurality of respondents import certified products with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) being the most accepted certification program followed Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI).

Sri Lankan wood products exporters are small in scale and many of them are newcomers to the export market. Inefficient internal and external transportation procedures, lack of supportive government policies, lengthy custom procedures, lack of experienced labor, old production technology, and difficulty in meeting buyer’s delivery schedules are the prominent constraints and issues facing Sri Lanka’s wood products export sector. Although a majority of respondents export non-certified products, they are willing to know more about forest certification if it can help develop international markets. Both U.S. wood products importers and Sri Lankan exporters are not willing to pay the cost of certification.

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