Six Asian countries regulating timber imports
In the past 12 months, Japan, the Republic of Korea, China, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Malaysia have all taken steps to develop import regulations designed to keep illegally logged timber out of their markets.
In most cases, timber import regulations give governments the power to penalize companies that trade in illegal timber.
The new Asian regulations - when operational - will join the US, EU, and Australia which have similar legislation already in place, and together, have the potential to create a significant global market incentive for companies to only trade in legal timber.
A recent Forest Trends report presents a snapshot of these rapidly evolving policies and regulations as well as analyzing the likely impacts on global markets.
These developments are significant because in 2016, the six Asian countries represented almost 40% of the global market share of timber imports (up from 22% in 2009).
Combined with the US, EU, and Australia, these markets covered over 90% of global timber imports in 2016.
With a growing number of global timber products manufactured in major hubs such as Vietnam, the provisions set out in the new Asian regulations promote transparency and are being designed to help manufacturers meet the requirements of the timber regulations already in place in major consumer markets such as Europe, the US, and Australia.
Initial EUTR cases demonstrate that companies are being given time to justify or improve their systems, often accompanied by an injunction on sales of specific products until improvements have been made.
The extended enforcement timeframes sometimes frustrate NGOs in the EU, but they allow prosecutors to justify sanctions when companies ultimately fail and support companies that try to improve.
The six Asian countries developing import regulations join at least 30 other states (the 28 Member States of the EU, the United States, and Australia) in regulating the trade in illegal timber.
They have the potential to create a strong global market incentive for companies to only trade in legal timber.
While the six countries are at different stages in the development and implementation of their timber import regulations, technical harmonisation and robust, pro-active enforcement will be critical for their long-term success in eliminating the trade in illegal timber and protecting forests.
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