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International Summit to Address Global Wood and Laminate Flooring Issues

Jim Gould, President of Floor Covering InstituteLeaders and stewards of the world's wood and laminate flooring industries will converge in Shanghai next month to discuss critically important issues impacting wood based flooring markets around the world. The 2010 International Wood Flooring Summit (IWFS) will be unlike any other in the world and is open to anyone attending Domotex's annual Asian floor covering industry event, DOMOTEX asia/CHINAFLOOR. Nowhere else in the world can you drop in and listen to so many thought leaders from so many parts of the world discussing global topics that affect your industry.The goal of the IWFS is to increase communication among international markets and industry leaders in order to better understand governmental regulations, standards and environmental issues central to our industry. Last year, Ed Korczak, CEO of the U.S. National Wood Flooring Association, and I represented the U.S. at a similar Domotex event which was covered well by our media. This article by Floor Biz, Wood Summit: Industry Groups Join Forces for Common Goals, is a good indicator of the kinds of topics the 2010 summit will tackle.

This year, I have been asked to moderate an expanded summit with a broader perspective and wider range of participants. Along with last year's participants, which included the China National Forestry Product Industry Association (CNFPIA), I have invited Bill Dearing of the North American Laminate Floor Association (NALFA) and his European counterpart from the European Producers of Laminate Flooring (EPLF), as well as wood flooring association representatives from South America, Canada, Africa, Malaysia and Indonesia. Mark Elwell, board member of the U.S. based National Wood Flooring Association, will attend as will members of the The European Federation of Parquet Importers based in Belgium, and other timber trade organizations.

The Europeans will be asked to present on their Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) initiative - their version of the U.S. Lacey Act. Some say that the EU’s legislation will be more cumbersome, requiring third party verification of legally logged trees. Others say that the clear cut certification is much easier than the subjective “due care” standards of the U.S. Lacey Act.

Sometimes just hearing a global perspective is an eye opener and that was the case for me last year when Ed Korczak and I presented on the U.S. Lacey Act Amendments which had recently gone into effect. Ed gave an excellent explanation of the law and how it would impact the wood flooring business in the United States. In my naiveté, I was surprised when the reaction from Asian and European members was anger and confusion. Many viewed the act not as a way to support efforts to control illegal logging but rather as a protectionist movement that created trade barriers to keep foreign manufacturers out of the U.S. market. This prompted me to write the research paper, Continuing Wood Trade Under the Lacey Act Amendments, which has been used as a basis of training by several U.S. and international companies. I am sure that the conversation will continue this year.

The bottom line is that the world is no longer waiting for good consciences to determine good acts. Governments and NGOs are acting in concert resulting in new standards to protect our planet. New requirements are permeating the industry at every level. Current and pending legislation will impact the wood flooring industry from forest to consumer. Changing standards and scrutiny will continue as public sentiment grows.

The International Wood Summit will be held Wednesday, March 24th from 3-5 p.m. during Domotex asia/CHINAFLOOR which runs from March 23-25. I applaud their effort to provide our industry with a forum to discuss these issues and coordinate our efforts around the world.

I hope some of you will join me at the summit in Shanghai - it's free and open to the industry. If you cannot make it to Shanghai, and even if you can, I would greatly appreciate your comments here to let me know what issues you feel are critical to address - I am finalizing the agenda now. You can also contact me for more details about the event.

I hope to hear from you soon!


Jim Gould, president and founder of the Floor Covering Institute


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