Frequent readers of Import/Export Wood Purchasing News will recall that my February column provided details about several proposals put forward for consideration at the 18th meeting of the CITES Conference of the Parties (COP18) that, if adopted, would mean additional requirements for trade in species such as Ipé and the genus Cedrela. Since that column there have been several important developments.
First COP18, which was to have taken place in late May and early June in Colombo, Sri Lanka, was postponed due to the tragic Easter bombings in that city. The meeting has been moved to August 17-28 in Geneva, Switzerland. This new timing is important to traders who deal in CITES species because under the convention amendments to the appendices go into effect 90 days after ratification unless different timeframe is agreed to. This means that any new or amended listings agreed to at COP18 could go into effect in late November 2019.
Secondly, Brazil withdrew its proposal to list Ipé on CITES Appendix II. While this proposal cannot be re-introduced at COP18, it is expected that there will be additional debate about sustainable trade in Ipé before the next COP in two to three years.
In addition to the species proposals that garner the major headlines at each CITES Conference of the Parties, there will be a record number of policy proposals that could fundamentally impact the way CITES functions. IWPA staff will be particularly active in the consideration of proposed guidance on how CITES Parties make Legal Acquisition Findings. Some stakeholders want to require Parties to conduct Legal Acquisition Findings for all finished products containing CITES material including chain of custody information for each step of the supply chain. As any wood products trader or manufacturer knows, this process would become prohibitively complex each time a product undergoes any type of sorting or manufacturing, with little or no added conservation benefit.
Additionally, Parties are expected to consider a proposal that would effectively introduce a new term that could be included in CITES annotations for tree species – “transformed wood.” Initially, adoption of this new term would mean that the annotation for Afrormosia would apply to more products under HTS 44.09, and it would increase the likelihood that this new term would be used in future listing changes.
Once decisions are made on these issues at COP18 in Geneva, they will have to be implemented by country Management Authorities such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Division of CITES Management Authority. IWPA staff works closely with USFWS CITES staff on issues of importance to our industry and we are concerned that a crush of new decisions will add to their already considerable policy implementation and permitting burdens.
IWPA will continue to work closely with industry allies to speak clearly and forcefully that any restriction on trade must be carefully tailored to avoid limitations that are unnecessarily restrictive of trade and have clear environmental benefits.