ETTF discusses EU Timber Regulation with Myanmar industry

july 2012

Andre de Boer, Secretary General of the European Timber Trade Federation (ETTF), has been invited to Myanmar to address the local timber industry on the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR).
Mr de Boer has been asked to explain the challenges and opportunities presented by the new EU anti-illegal timber legislation, which comes into force next March, by the Myanmar Timber Merchant Association.

He will travel to the country in October or November, and is anticipating an audience at the seminar of 100-150.
“Apart from the private sector, there will be representatives of   Myanmar Timber Enterprise and the Forest Department,” said Mr de Boer. “I have also asked European importers to join me on the trip.”
The EUTR will make it an offence to place illegal timber on the EU market and obliges European companies to undertake due diligence risk assessment of all their timber and wood products sources, to ensure that illegal material does not enter their supply chain.

Mr de Boer’s invitation to Myanmar follows the EU’s decision to suspend trade sanctions on a range of commodities and goods from the country, including timber. This is in response to the government’s increasingly liberal approach and recent more open elections allowing opposition participation.

Mr de Boer said the state of forest and timber industry governance in Myanmar was still unclear, as the country has been largely off limits to foreign traders for a number of years.

“It's difficult for me to make a judgment on the state of the forest,” he said. “ The country is known for illegal logging. On the other hand, legal systems, forest laws and management systems are in place. If enforced the country could be a serious supplier of legally, if not sustainably produced timber.”

He added that a Dutch forester from the University of Wageningen has been assigned by the Netherlands government to undertake a fact-finding mission on the state of the Myanmar forestry and timber sectors. His report should be ready in time to provide valuable background information for the presentation.

The main Myanmar species in demand in Europe is, of course, teak, but it is thought that the country could potentially supply other commercial timber.

Besides the EUTR, the European delegation Myanmar will also discuss the related EU Forest Law Enforcement Governance and Trade (FLEGT) and Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) initiatives. Supplier countries can sign up to a VPA in exchange for undertaking to improve their forest management. VPA-licensed timber is then exempt from further risk assessment checks under the EUTR – effectively it provides a “green lane” for countries to bypass the regulation.

Currently a number of tropical countries are in the process of implementing VPA systems, but so far no licensed timber has been supplied.

The ETTF will be presenting on the EUTR in a range of other countries in the eight months leading up to its implementation.