The Chinese government has agreed to implement a six-month pilot program that will lift the ban on imports of Virginia logs, the Virginia Ports Authority (VPA) said Thursday.
The program, which begins June 1, temporarily reverses a 14-month embargo on Virginia hardwood and softwood log exports that began after Chinese Customs found evidence of pest infestation on logs originating in the United States. Since then, state officials have been working with the Chinese government to resolve the issue.
Prior to the ban, Virginia was a major East Coast supplier of logs to China, which is the world's largest log importer. In 2011, Virginia exported about $57 million worth of logs, down from $67 million in 2010. "The vast majority of those exports go to China," said Joe Harris, a VPA spokesman.
Under the pilot program, Virginia logs will re-enter China via certain designated ports and with enhanced pest treatment and testing protocols, the VPA said in a statement.
"We have all the necessary processes in place for safe export of this cargo," said VPA Executive Director Jerry A. Bridges in a statement. "If it goes well for six months, as we suspect it will, we will start to recapture this business."