Twenty containers of China-bound Southern yellow pine logs, the first to that country in more than a year from South Carolina, have left the Port of Charleston.

The State Ports Authority said today that the shipments are part of a test program with the Chinese government to restore limited log trade since a ban on South Carolina and Virginia logs was provisionally lifted earlier this year.

The containers were loaded onto a ship that left the Wando Welch Terminal in Mount Pleasant earlier this week.

“South Carolina’s forestry industry is a major driver of exports from our port, whether paper, wood pulp or logs,” said Jim Newsome, president and CEO of the SPA. “China is a rapidly expanding market for Southeast logs and lumber, so reopening the trade boosts volume at the port and supports jobs across the logistics industry.”

The logs came from the Walterboro area and were exported by Garley Forest Products, a Mississippi-based company that recently established in the Charleston area to take advantage of the Chinese pilot program.

Leigh Allen, President of Garley, said the pilot program means additional steps to prepare the logs for export, but that it is worth it to reopen the log trade with China.

“We feel good about the market,” Allen said in statement. “It’s a great opportunity for the landowners in the Southeast, especially near the deep-water ports that serve the Far East.”