A logging ban in China’s natural forests will likely increase its demand for foreign logs, but the impact on the Northwest’s timber market is uncertain. Though the country will need to import more logs, it’s unclear how motivated Chinese buyers will be to compete with domestic sawmills, which are currently offering high prices, experts say. “To expand the market, they’re going to have to go head-to-head with the mills,” said Gordon Culbertson, international business director at the Forest2Market consulting firm. According to USDA, a prohibition against commercial timber harvests in natural forests — as opposed to plantations — was enacted by China’s government to counter decades of over-cutting, contributing to a 5 percent drop in its log production in 2017. …Even so, China’s demand for logs helps establish a price floor for U.S. timber producers, since the country provides an export outlet even if the domestic market softens, said Paul Owen, president of Vanport International, which specializes in log exports.