The trend toward “greener,” more sustainable construction has taken hold in construction markets globally. Governments, private enterprise and consumers around the world increasingly recognize the role buildings play in energy, water, materials and other resource usages; greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions; the safety, health, and productivity of citizens; and the sustainability and resilience of a nation’s built environment. As building-related technologies advance awareness of their potential benefits grows, many nations now look beyond “greener” buildings. This vision seeks buildings that offer healthier environments, “smart” buildings where efficiencies are maximized through information collection and system-system communication, and buildings that provide resilience in the face of natural and manmade risks.
Increasing global urbanization is a steady driver fueling these trends. U.S. building products are competitive in construction markets worldwide and in both highly developed and developing economies. U.S. manufacturers have much to offer global markets that recognize how increasing building performance can contribute to public and private sector goals and priorities.
U.S. building products generally enjoy duty-free market access in Australia under the bilateral free trade agreement, and a common language eases the operational environment for U.S. exporters. The world’s 12th largest economy boasts a mature green building market, and its per-capita GDP of over 51,000 USD is among the highest in the world. Australians are accustomed to sourcing products internationally, and U.S. building products have strong brand recognition and a reputation for quality. Competition, however, is fierce in the geographically vast market with access to low-cost manufacturers in the region.
Canada is the highest ranked export market for U.S. building product manufacturers due to its proximity, its duty-free status under NAFTA, the relative lack of non-tariff trade barriers and ease of commercial relationship establishment. The country has a large, stable construction market with a robust green building segment driven by market forces and government policies. Commodity price declines and a weak Canadian dollar may impact some near-term opportunities, but the Canada market remains attractive for all seven subsectors.
U.S. building products enjoy duty-free market access in general under the U.S.-Chile Free Trade Agreement. Chile has 61 trade agreements in place with other countries that also offer market access benefits. The Chilean market is small, competitive, and price sensitive. Chile offers a stable economic and political environment and low reported corruption, and business is conducted in similar ways as it is in the United States. Chile’s construction market favors products that can advance energy efficiency, reduce labor requirements and be environmentally friendly. Resilience also is a longstanding goal in Chile’s building sector.
China is the world’s largest construction market and will continue to provide strong opportunity for U.S. building product exporters. Increasing urbanization and national commitments to conserve resources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions drive China’s steady commitment to expand the green portion of its massive construction market. Understanding China’s regulatory environment, specific market access requirements and relevant trade promotion opportunities will help U.S. exporters compete for expanding sales opportunities.
Japan’s ranking of fourth as a 2018 export market for the building products sector is driven in large part by strong performance and future prospects for U.S. wood products exports. Japan is a top 10 market for five of the seven building product subsectors. But the presence of world-leading, domestic Japanese manufacturers of HVACR,plumbing, glass and other building products constrains Japan’s import demand. For U.S. wood product exports, Japan continues to be a promising market.