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2020 World of Wood Convention Will be Held as Virtual Meeting Due to Coronavirus

Posted By Cindy L. Squires, Esq., Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Annual Gathering Hosted by International Wood Products Association Reimagined

Alexandria, Virginia – The 2020 World of Wood Convention is being reimagined as the first-ever Virtual World of Wood Convention from April 1-3, the International Wood Products Association (IWPA) announced today. Escalation of the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19), which the World Health Organization today characterized as a pandemic, has led to concerns being raised by attendees, exhibitors, and speakers who have been prohibited from traveling due to government travel advisories and bans as well as employer restrictions on attendance at large meetings, among other reasons. In response, IWPA has decided to transition from its industry gathering in Savannah, Georgia to a virtual event.

“The well-being of attendees and our community is our number one priority. We have been closely monitoring the progression of the coronavirus and it is with deep regret that we announce that the 2020 World of Wood Convention will not take place in Savannah,” IWPA President Kenny MacMaster of Argo Fine Imports said. “Given the alarming spread of the virus in the U.S. and more than 100 countries, U.S. health officials have stressed the importance of limiting mass-gatherings in order to ‘flatten the curve’ to slow down the rate of advancement of the coronavirus. Therefore, we feel that transitioning to a virtual conference is the most prudent decision at this time.”

IWPA Executive Cindy Squires is confident that IWPA will be able to deliver the value of World of Wood attendance utilizing video conferencing tools. “While we are disappointed that our attendees won’t be able to come together in Savannah, transitioning to a Virtual World of Wood on the same dates that they were scheduled to be in Savannah will allow them to access industry-leading business intelligence and critical information remotely,” said Squires.

IWPA invites all attendees to aid in the effort to control the spread of COVID-19 by following the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention interim guidance on large community events and embrace video conferencing.

All registrants will automatically be enrolled in the Virtual World of Wood. IWPA staff will follow up with all registrants with detailed information about how to participate in the Virtual World of Wood.

Further updates about Virtual World of Wood will be posted on the 2020 World of Wood website.

Established in 1956, the International Wood Products Association ( is the leading international trade association for the North American imported wood products industry, representing 220 companies and trade associations engaged in the import of hardwoods and softwoods from sustainably managed forests. Association members consist of three key groups involved in the import process: U.S. importers and consuming industries, offshore manufacturers and the service providers that facilitate trade.


Tags:  World of Wood Convention 

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IWPA’s World of Wood Convention is still expected to take place as scheduled April 1-3 in Savannah Georgia

Posted By Cindy L. Squires, Esq., Wednesday, March 4, 2020

(updated March 5, 2020)

IWPA’s World of Wood Convention is expected to go on as scheduled and if you are sick, have been sick, or have been to China, Korea, Iran or Italy after March 15th please do not come.

These countries (China, Korea, Iran & Italy) have been designated "Level 3 - Widespread Sustained (Ongoing) Transmission for COVID-19" and so out an abundance of caution we are making this unusual request.  If you are impacted by this, we look forward to you joining us in 2021 at the World of Wood Convention in San Diego, California. 

Please be aware that as of March 4, 2020, the US has suspended and limited the entry of non-U.S. Citizens who were physically present within Iran and the People's Republic of China, excluding the Special Administrative Regions of Hong Kong and Macau, during the 14-day period preceding their entry or attempted entry into the United States, subject to certain exceptions.  U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents will be subject to additional restrictions and health screenings on arrival to the United States.  Please ensure that you allow for time for screening. 

IWPA is closely monitoring the situation and will update as conditions change. Here are some helpful resources:

The IWPA World of Wood Convention will have a firm no handshakes policy and a near obsessive amount of required hand washing.

The Hyatt Regency Savannah has informed IWPA that it will remain vigilant and utilize precautionary measures to protect the health and safety of guests and colleagues. As always, Hyatt properties will continue to follow recommended procedures and protocols to ensure that all hotel practices meet the latest coronavirus guidance. Expect to see hand sanitizer wipes stations by lobby elevators, hand sanitizer dispensers in all public area restrooms and the front desk. In addition, the Hyatt has implemented the Ecolab cleaning guide and is using approved products for Novel Coronavirus for Housekeeping and Night Cleaners


Please do let us know if you have any questions or concerns (contact or call 703-820-6696). 

Tags:  World of Wood Convention 


NAFTA 2.0 Changes Focus on Labor Enforcement

Posted By Cindy L. Squires, Esq., Thursday, December 12, 2019
On December 10th top negotiators from the U.S., Mexico, and Canada gathered in Mexico City to sign an agreement making changes to the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA). The Agreement, if ratified, will update the North American Free Trade Agreement. The changes were the result of negotiations in the U.S. between the Trump Administration and key Democrats in the House of Representatives and were seen as necessary to win approval from the House Democratic Caucus.

Changes to the environmental provisions of the agreement include a new commitment that all parties adopt, implement, and maintain seven multilateral environment agreements such as CITES, new mechanisms to monitor whether environmental protections are being applied, and enhancements to mechanisms that ensure only legally harvested and taken flora and fauna are traded through Mexico.

The most far-reaching aspect of the changes has to do with a new enforcement regime for labor obligations under the agreement. Dubbed the “Facility-Specific Rapid Response Labor Mechanism,” all manufactured goods and all services traded between the U.S. and Mexico will be subject to facility-based enforcement of labor obligations within a mandated timeframe.

IWPA urges quick passage of the USMCA agreement to provide certainty to North American businesses that rely on regional trade.

Tags:  CITES  NAFTA  U.S.-Mexican-Canada Agreement 

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Coverage of New Study on Labeling Errors Misses the Point

Posted By Cindy L. Squires, Esq., Friday, November 8, 2019
Updated: Friday, November 8, 2019
This summer, the World Wildlife Fund, the World Resources Institute, and the U.S. Forest Service released a study about the efficacy of forensic testing (including the unreliability of forensic wood anatomy) and the labeling claims of products containing wood that has garnered sensational headlines. In November, MarketWatch used the study to conclude that “Your Hardwood Floor was Probably Harvested Illegally.” While a greater understanding of legitimate fraud and misrepresentation is helpful, this shallow reading of the study is reflected by the misleading MarketWatch headline. We should not confuse the diversity of tree species with legality.

The study, titled “Fraud and misrepresentation in retail forest products exceeds U.S. forensic wood science capacity,” tested 73 consumer products acquired from major U.S. retailers against product claims about wood species (is the species claimed accurate) and product type (e.g. solid wood versus composite wood). The study’s authors conclude that 62% of products tested had either an incorrect species claim, an incorrect product type, or both. In my view, it is an irresponsible – and indefensible – leap then to extrapolate from those findings that “your hardwood floor was probably harvested illegally.”

Monocultures do not exist in the forest – especially in the tropics. It is estimated that one hectare of land in a tropical forest can hold 650 tree species. In 2015, researchers from 43 countries determined that 40,000 to 53,000 tropical and subtropical tree species exist. In contrast, North America is home to roughly 1,000 tree species, a little over 200 of those are traded commercially. With such diversity, it isn’t surprising at all that species identification is a considerable challenge. Species identification can even be a challenge for plantations where it is likely that volunteer pioneer tree species will emerge and mix into the planted stand without active expert management.

While the U.S. Lacey Act declaration form and CITES permits require explicit information about genus and species, stakeholders that sell products containing wood have long used “marketing names” to group species with similar characteristics for simplicity and to build demand for these species. Such marketing can reduce pressure on more well-known species. There are also legitimate reasons for species substitution, such as fiber availability and when the aesthetics and performance characteristics are similar enough to be fit for purpose. It is important that product labeling not contradict such uses. That is why we have taught a helpful mnemonic device on labeling claims: If it’s ON the box, it’s IN the box.

Wood is a remarkable renewable resource. Its beauty and performance cannot be beat by non-wood substitutions. IWPA will continue to work with our members and government and NGO partners to build acceptance and demand for this resource and address instances like the press accounts that mistakenly sow doubt about its use.

Tags:  Biodiversity  Labeling  Lacey Act 


USTR Redesignates Lauan Plywood as Duty-Free Under GSP

Posted By Cindy L. Squires, Esq., Tuesday, October 29, 2019
IWPA applauds the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative for redesignating certain Lauan and Meranti plywood from Indonesia (HTS 441231.4155) as eligible for duty-free entry under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program. “Lauan plywood is a critical input for U.S. manufacturers in the RV industry. Duty-free entry of this unique international product is a win-win for RV manufacturers and IWPA members that supply them,” said IWPA Executive Director Cindy Squires. This summer, IWPA testified on behalf of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association’s (RVIA) petition for redesignation before USTR and the U.S. International Trade Commission.

U.S. importers and users have been paying an estimated $1 million each month in additional duties since this product was removed from the GSP program in 2016. The redesignation is effective November 1, 2019.

Tags:  GSP  Lauan  Meranti  Plywood 


CITES COP18 Decisions Will Impact Rosewood, Cedrela, Afrormosia

Posted By Cindy L. Squires, Esq., Friday, October 4, 2019
Updated: Friday, October 4, 2019

I am pleased to report that IWPA’s active engagement at the 18th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP18) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) resulted in several changes that are important to companies that trade in CITES-listed wood products. For those who may not be familiar with CITES, it is an international agreement that regulates trade in specimens of wild animals and plants to ensure that such trade does not threaten their survival.

Thankfully, the Parties adopted a proposal to fix the flawed Annotation #15 that had negatively impacted trade in musical instruments that contain rosewood species from the genus Dalbergia. The new annotation is the result of three years of negotiations. The new annotation will now exempt finished products up to a maximum weight of the CITES-listed wood of up to 10 kg per shipment as well as finished musical instruments, finished musical instrument parts, and finished musical instrument accessories. That means that while timber exports will require an export permit, finished musical instruments will not. This will dramatically reduce the number of permits that CITES management authorities in countries such as the U.S. must process for finished musical instruments, thus easing the extensive wait times exporters have faced.

The Parties adopted a proposal by Ecuador to list the entire genus Cedrela on CITES Appendix II. Importantly, during consideration of the proposal Ecuador and several other parties that export Cedrela species agreed to make amendments to the proposal that IWPA was advocating to minimize its negative impact:

  1. Only exports from the neotropical range were included in the listing (this is the same range limitation that is currently in place for exports of Genuine Mahogany).

  2. Instead of applying to all products including Cedrela species, including finished products such as musical instruments, the listing was restricted to Annotation #6: Logs, sawn wood, veneer sheets and plywood.

  3. To allow sufficient time for CITES national authorities and industry alike to prepare for this listing, its implementation was delayed for twelve months rather than the normal 90-day implementation requirement. For the subsequent twelve-month period current requirements for those Cedrela species that are currently listed on CITES Appendix III remain in effect. Because COP18 adopted this proposal on August 28, 2019, we anticipate that it will take effect on or around August 28, 2020.

The Parties also added to Appendix II less widely traded species Mulanje Cedar and Mukula.

Additionally, the Parties adopted a proposal that adds the term “transformed wood” to the annotation for Afrormosia. For this annotation, transformed wood is defined by HS code 44.09 so that it includes wood “continuously shaped along any edges, ends or faces…”

IWPA staff is working with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staff to prepare resources and guidance that will assist industry in complying with these new listings. One key deadline to be aware of is that, unless a delay was explicitly agreed to as in the case of Cedrela, the changes go into effect in 90 days or on or about November 28, 2019. While USFWS has not communicated the exact dates of implementation as of this writing, IWPA will share this information with members as soon as it is available.

The next Conference of the Parties will take place in Costa Rica in 2022. If you are interested in participating in IWPA’s member-led engagement on CITES issues such as implementation of these changes as well as future proposals to list additional species, please consider joining our Lumber/CITES Committee.

Tags:  Afrormosia  Cedrela  CITES  COP18  HTS 44.09  Ipe  Rosewood  USFWS 

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August CITES Meeting to Go Beyond Species Proposals

Posted By Cindy L. Squires, Esq., Thursday, August 8, 2019
Updated: Friday, October 4, 2019
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.

Tags:  Afrormosia  Brazil  CITES  COP18  Sri Lanka 

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Watch Out for State Bills that Could Impact Your Business

Posted By Cindy L. Squires, Esq., Sunday, June 9, 2019
Updated: Friday, October 4, 2019
It is easy to get wrapped up in what’s happening in Washington, D.C. Even with a strong economy and record low unemployment, the federal government keeps racking up debt at a break neck pace. And even though the Trump Administration has placed a huge priority on cutting wasteful regulations, according to a recent analysis by The National Review the federal government still issued more than 3,300 regulations in 2018 alone. But several recent develops that could impact the North American imported wood products industry have shown that it is also important to know what’s happening in statehouses around the country.

Nowhere is this clearer than in California, the state that gave us Prop 65 and the composite wood products airborne toxic control measure that is more commonly known as CARB 2. IWPA members who sell to contractors involved in state procurement in California were notified early this year about Assembly Bill 572, the California Deforestation-Free Procurement Act. This legislation would require, beginning in 2021, that companies involved in state procurement contracts certify that certain forest-risk commodities such as palm oil, beef, leather, rubber, cocoa, coffee, and wood products were not produced on land where tropical deforestation occurred. Opposition has come from the California’s commercial and industrial building contractors who argue that imposes burdensome and unworkable criteria, particularly when documenting complete supply chains for products not purchased directly from the source.

In New York, the legislature has approved legislation that would ban a number of chemicals including formaldehyde in children’s products. What some surely well-meaning legislators failed to grasp, however, is that many healthy products like wood naturally emit low levels of formaldehyde. Our hope is that reason will prevail, and an accommodation can be made for children’s products that contain wood and TSCA VI/CARB 2 compliant composite wood products before the ban goes into effect in 2023.

There’s always the chance that these proposals are one-offs, pet issues for a state lawmaker or interest group in a given state. And there is no question that our industry has plenty of pressing national and international issues like the trade war between the U.S. and China, congressional consideration of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, and proposals to list additional tree species on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. But the risk is that these bills could serve as the model for similar legislative proposals in other states.

These bills show that our collective attention must be focused not only on the national and international levels, but also on statehouses across the country.

Tags:  California  CARB 2  China  Prop 65  TSCA VI  U.S.-Mexican-Canada Agreement 

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Staying Nimble is the Key to Success

Posted By Cindy L. Squires, Esq., Sunday, April 7, 2019
Updated: Friday, October 4, 2019
Even with a strong economy, threats to your business can be right around the corner. Being nimble is the key to success in today’s wood products market.

In March, the TSCA Title VI import certification for composite wood products came online. At press time it appears that President Trump is on the verge of a huge trade deal with China that could eliminate the additional 10% tariffs on imported wood products from that country. In late May, IWPA staff will be traveling to Colombo, Sri Lanka to advocate on behalf of our industry at the 18th meeting of the CITES Conference of the Parties where the assembled countries will consider proposals to further regulate the trade in species such as Ipé and the genus Cedrela.

In addition to these issues that have been years in the making, there have been recent developments that even industry insiders may not be aware of. Formaldehyde may come under review by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as part of the TSCA chemical risk evaluation process. EPA is expected to release its list of 20 high priority chemicals that will be subject to risk assessment in late March. This process could eventually lead to the addition of restrictions on use of formaldehyde.

IWPA has already alerted members about another emerging issue that we have seen gaining some traction both at home and abroad is the desire to prevent or disincentivize procurement of even certified tropical timber species. The California Assembly is considering legislation that would require a deforestation-free certification for a range of agriculture products being procured for state projects. How this certification would be made and verified is not at all clear from the legislative text. A group of Scandinavian countries that came together to promote the Nordic Swan ecolabel has proposed an extensive list of timber species that would be ineligible for the label. It is troublesome that even certified legally- and sustainably-harvested wood products would be excluded from eligibility.

Meanwhile, pressure for congressional approval for the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement is building. IWPA has joined over 300 industry associations in a coalition to support its passage.

IWPA works with our members and groups that share our passion for beautiful and high performing wood products to advance our mission of building acceptance and demand for the sustainable products our members supply in the North American market. The support of our members allows us to be a strong voice standing up to ill-conceived proposals that would have profound impacts for our industry. Just as important is the role we play in warning members about unforeseen risks that could be looming over the horizon.

If you are not already a member of IWPA, please reach out to us to discuss how we can help ensure your company remains nimble in the face of oncoming challenges.

Tags:  Cedrela  China  EPA  Formaldehyde  Sri Lanka  Tariffs  TSCA VI  U.S.-Mexican-Canada Agreement 

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