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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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