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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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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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