By Bradley A. McKinney
International Wood Products Association
(703) 820-7807 (c)
Now into my second month as Executive Director of the International Wood Products Association (IWPA), I am continually learning about the challenges and opportunities facing our industry. As many readers of this column know, these range from supply chain bottlenecks and labor shortages to regulations and requirements by the U.S. and foreign governments. In addressing these and other issues, I intend to collaborate with fellow industry stakeholders, to whom I endeavor to be a good partner. Ultimately, this will allow us to continue delivering to people in America and across the world the beautiful wood products they want, need, and use every day.
I come to IWPA following stops in the public and private sectors. I began on Capitol Hill, on the staff of then-U.S. Senator Richard G. Lugar of Indiana. I then spent a number of years working on various aspects of U.S. agricultural policy at a trade association and two consulting firms, where I advocated for members and clients with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as the pertinent congressional committees. I was Chief of Staff of the International Trade Administration, at the U.S. Department of Commerce, where I worked with the U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service and interagency partners at the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development to eliminate trade barriers for U.S. companies. Immediately prior to joining IWPA, I was Vice President for Economic Security and Operations at the Export-Import Bank of the United States, where I was responsible for constituting the new Program on China and Transformational Exports, authorized by Congress in the bank’s historic 2019 reauthorization. In leading IWPA, I draw on all these distinct experiences.
It is paramount to me to be transparent and trustworthy as a leader and industry partner. As such, I wish to communicate clearly to readers of this publication, as I did to IWPA membership on my very first day, the priorities that drive the agenda for our organization.
1. Driving Growth and Retention in Membership
We seek to grow our membership roster, and incorporate new and existing members into the exciting, impactful workstreams that influence the trade of international wood products. Delivering IWPA’s unique value to more companies and individuals throughout the industry, in the U.S. and overseas, enhances our ability to source wood products from sustainably managed forests across the globe.
2. Sustaining Excellence in Service to Members
IWPA advocates on behalf of our members to the U.S. and foreign governments, an area where IWPA has a strong track record. A recent example is the Agreement reached between the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) and Vietnam on the Section 301 Timber Investigation. The decision to eschew tariffs and pursue commitments through a strategic trade dialogue was precisely consistent with IWPA recommendations submitted to USTR last November. Positive outcomes such as this impact the entire industry, and we must continue to play our part in working effectively with our government partners.
IWPA also conducts training for members on important topics such as the Lacey Act; formaldehyde regulations; sourcing strategies; risk assessment methods; validation of supplier compliance; audits; and supply chain mapping. The list literally goes on. So, too, will this important service. We are making plans to expand these offerings as I compose this column. The quality training and effective policy advocacy conducted on behalf of members are core components of the suite of services we will continually deliver.
3. Reinforcing Public Affairs Activity
We seek to enhance our profile and communication with IWPA members and industry partners. This includes foundational activities such as press releases and social media. But beyond that, we intend to proactively pursue collaboration with organizations along the value chain, partnerships with whom will enhance our ability to source international wood products for customers and ultimately reinforce sustainable forest management around the world.
In keeping with these priorities, I intend to leverage our remarkable members throughout my time at IWPA and lean on their expertise to be a strong voice highlighting the important role we play, not just for consumers and manufacturers in the U.S., but for sustaining the health of forests around the world.
My tenure begins as world leaders are increasingly focused on land use, forest preservation, and the role that wood products and sustainable forest management play in the health of global forests. We saw this during the recent United Nations Climate Change Conference, where pledges to eliminate deforestation – a goal that IWPA shares – were highlighted. Achieving these goals will take all of us, including a strong IWPA, which I intend to position to be impactful in these and other important endeavors.
Wood products derived from global forests have enhanced lives and livelihoods throughout history. The industry impacts everyday life for all of us. I am humbled by the opportunity to carry out the priorities enumerated on this page for the benefit of IWPA, and for the dynamic global industry in which it plays a leading role.