5th Congress of Sawmill Industry, Slavonski Brod
Cluster started the organization of Sawmill Congress
The 5th Congress of Sawmill Industry was organized on 29.10.2014 in Slavonski Brod, under the auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture. The congress achieved important results in better valorisation of primary wood processing in the SEE countries.
The minister Tihomir Jakovina, who emphasized the important statistical indicators that classify the forest-based industries in the leading industries and real drivers of economy, gave special recognition to the sector. The surplus, export growth, green jobs, the employment in the rural areas, those are just some of the arguments that confirm that the government has done the right when ranked the timber industry in the strategic sectors of the economy.
More than 250 congress participants from 12 countries discussed the current situation, challenges and future of the sector. It was assessed that the cooperation of wood processing companies in the region has no alternative and that Croatian accession to the EU should contribute to the growth of the sector in all countries
of the region because it will be able to improve the flow of timber goods, commercial and technological information and enable the initiation of the research projects in the field forestry and wood processing.
Signature of an agreement on regional cooperation, which was organized during the congress, represents a major step towards establishing a more intensive sectoral cooperation, especially regarding the need to increase the use of wood in construction business.
The main objective of regional cooperation is to popularize the sector and all previous mentioned activities should lead to the creation of new green jobs and reduce the negative effects of global pollution, in which this sector already makes a major contribution by reducing CO2 emissions.
Competition in the market of sawmill products is getting stronger and the use of new and sophisticated technologies is imposed as a key challenge for achieving global competitiveness. On the congress was presented a range of new information and examples about this topic as well as best practices from European sawmills.
SAWMILL CONGRESS CONCLUSIONS:
For wood processing companies in the region there is no alternative to cooperation, and Croatian accession to the EU can significantly improve the flow of goods, commercial and technological information and initiate research projects in the field of forestry and wood processing.
Institutional cooperation of sector bodies in the region has been symbolic so far and there has been no common policy or a common concern regarding the current situation, especially in the context of participation and the creation of joint projects oriented to the application of innovation, education, the establishment of national research infrastructure and environmental protection.
At the Congress a Regional Cooperation Agreement was signed between the relevant regional ministries of agriculture and forestry in order to improve the quality of above mentioned subject areas, particularly regarding the increased use of wood and its promotion in the Southeast Europe region. The Agreement is the basis for common operational activities in the region and to candidate new projects for EU funds.
Energy from wood has a great potential in all countries of the region but it is not used enough. Production of wood pellets is increasing, although there is a shortage of raw materials, duethe great interest of buyers from neighboring EU countries. Generally speaking, there is a problem regarding the treatment of pellets, which are still not designated strategic energy products in government documents.
For the first time Congress emphasized the environmental and developmental component of the sector, which is prominent in the new European Environmental Policy. The timber industry and forestry represent the standpoint of economic sustainability and the reduction of pollution and CO2 emissions. There are great expectations from green public procurement. Many public buildings can be equipped with different wood products that reduce CO2 emissions, and wood production can open up new “green jobs” in rural areas in SEE countries.
Participants evaluated the quality of production technology in the primary processing as low, because outdated technology solutions still dominate and cannot compete on the most demanding markets. Application of new and sophisticated technologies is one of the key prerequisites for achieving global competitiveness.
The problem of technological inferiority is still one of the biggest challenges in the further development of this sector.
STATEMENTS OF PARTICIPANTS:
Tihomir Jakovina, Minister of Agriculture of the Republic of Croatia:
The raw material is not a problem. We have very high-quality raw material and a lot of wood, but currently demand for logs outstrips supply threefold. Through multi-year contracts we are trying to implement a model that will provide security to wood processors, and everyone else, and by further investment in technology to support the entire sector.
Prof. Darko Motik, PhD, Secretary, Croatian Wood Cluster:
The signing of a Regional Agreement represents a step forward towards the establishment of intensive cooperation, which will connect wood processing potentials in the region and candidates for EU funds.
Igor Milavec, Director, The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia (CCIS):
We are interested in new regional initiatives and therefore at the Congress there was a strong delegation of Slovenian companies that want to get acquainted with the situation in the region. We see that after the Congress there will be many opportunities for more intensive cooperation.
Adem Fetic, Assistant Minister, Ministry of Agriculture of Montenegro:
We will definitely join regional initiatives because we want to acquire new knowledge concerning rural development and the active role of forestry and wood processing in European policies. Here in Slavonski Brod we have heard a lot of interesting and useful information that we will convey to our industry.
Tihomir Muric, Executive Director, Serbian Forests:
It is our pleasure to participate in sectoral meetings in Croatia and in June we have already been in Opatija, where we heard a lot of similar proposals and the overview of the current situation. There are many benefits and we must express great satisfaction with the exchange of experience and with the news that we have
heard here. This sector has a lot of development potential.
Darko Prodan, President, Croatian Wood Cluster:
We are pleased that the Congress is growing, because every year is better and stronger. We see that the timber industry is the real engine that is daily exposed to brutal pressure from the market, but it is one of the drivers of the national economy. We now account for 10 percent of national exports, without support, without subsidies, so it is a remarkable result and we plan to achieve even better results.
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