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IWPA Launches Initiative to Develop Sustainable Wood Products Trade in Burma

Monday, July 28, 2014  
Posted by: Cindy Squires

For Immediate Release
July 28, 2014
Media Contact: Mike Burita 
202.420.9361 or

IWPA Launches Initiative to Develop
Sustainable Wood Products Trade in Burma

ALEXANDRIA, VA – July 28, 2014.  The International Wood Products Association (IWPA) announced today the launch of its responsible trade initiative with Burma (Myanmar). The initiative will promote forest management reform in Burma and is made possible by a license recently issued to IWPA by the U.S. Treasury Department that enables trade and other commercial contacts between U.S. wood importers and Burmese industry and government agencies involved in the timber trade. The Treasury Department license covers all IWPA Voting and Associate Members.

“IWPA’s goal is to be a positive force in Burma by encouraging the development of independent legality verification and sustainable management of Burma’s forest resources,” said Cindy Squires, Esq., Executive Director of the IWPA. “Currently, logging legality verification programs are in their infancy in Burma and our plan is that by launching direct trade with the country we can provide critical market support for the establishment of such programs.“

IWPA members participating in the Initiative have committed to encourage the Burmese timber industry and government to put into place reforms that seek to ensure that logs are harvested in Burma in a sustainable manner and in compliance with Burmese law.

U.S. importers operating under the new license will encourage the mills supplying product to U.S. importers to work toward independent legality verification. IWPA will work with its counterparts in the European Union and Australia via the Global Timber Forum to assist and encourage Myanmar to put into place such reforms.

The license recently issued by Treasury Department permits IWPA Members to trade with the Myanmar Timber Enterprise (MTE), the state-owned enterprise responsible for the timber trade in Burma. MTE is part of the Myanmar Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry (MOECAF). Recent changes in Burmese law require traders to deal with MTE to export wood. IWPA pursued and received a license for trade with MTE, which is on the Treasury Department’s List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons. In light of the one-year license granted to IWPA, only IWPA Members are eligible for this direct trade program.

“Myanmar forest cover is estimated at 47% of its total land area and is home to about 45% of the world’s natural teak,” said Cindy Squires. “This initiative will help wood traders meet their responsibility to know their supply chains by allowing for direct trade.”

As part of this initiative, IWPA and its members will also promote trade in Burmese lesser-known species.

Established in 1956, IWPA is the leading international trade association representing the North American imported wood products industry.  IWPA members include companies and trade organizations engaged in the import of hardwoods and softwoods from sustainably managed forests in over 30 nations across the globe. Association members comprise three key groups involved in the import process: U.S. importers and consuming industries, offshore manufacturers and the service providers that facilitate trade. 

IWPA’s mission is to build acceptance and demand in North America for globally sourced wood products from sustainably managed forests.