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Steeming The Tide

Steeming The Tide

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Published by Perkumpulan Telapak
Stolen timber worth almost two and a half billion
dollars is traded between the countries of East and
South-East Asia each year.1 China, which
consumes timber from some of the countries most
badly affected by illegal logging, is reckoned to be
the largest consumer of illegal timber in the
world,2 while Indonesia is the largest tropical
supplier.3 It is clear that if illegal logging is to be effectively ountered, the countries of this region must work together.
EIA and Telapak’s investigations over the past five years have spanned the region and provide a unique knowledge of this trade and attempts to tackle it. Drawing on this experience, this briefing uses specific case studies to illustrate options for action. Though solutions must necessarily begin with improved enforcement in producer countries against illegal cutting and export of timber, this document focuses on how regional consumer and processing states can work with producer countries to help stem the tide.
Stolen timber worth almost two and a half billion
dollars is traded between the countries of East and
South-East Asia each year.1 China, which
consumes timber from some of the countries most
badly affected by illegal logging, is reckoned to be
the largest consumer of illegal timber in the
world,2 while Indonesia is the largest tropical
supplier.3 It is clear that if illegal logging is to be effectively ountered, the countries of this region must work together.
EIA and Telapak’s investigations over the past five years have spanned the region and provide a unique knowledge of this trade and attempts to tackle it. Drawing on this experience, this briefing uses specific case studies to illustrate options for action. Though solutions must necessarily begin with improved enforcement in producer countries against illegal cutting and export of timber, this document focuses on how regional consumer and processing states can work with producer countries to help stem the tide.

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Published by: Perkumpulan Telapak on Jun 26, 2008
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07/30/2009

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Introduction
Stolen timber worth almost two and a half billiondollars is traded between the countries of East andSouth-East Asia each year.
1
China, whichconsumes timber from some of the countries mostbadly affected by illegal logging, is reckoned to bethe largest consumer of illegal timber in theworld,
2
while Indonesia is the largest tropicalsupplier.
3
It is clear that if illegal logging is to beeffectively countered, the countries of this regionmust work together.EIA and Telapak’s investigations over the pastfive years have spanned the region and provide aunique knowledge of this trade and attempts totackle it. Drawing on this experience, this briefinguses specific case studies to illustrate options foraction. Though solutions must necessarily beginwith improved enforcement in producer countriesagainst illegal cutting and export of timber, thisdocument focuses on how regional consumer andprocessing states can work with producercountries to help stem the tide.
 
The Nature of the Problem
The countries of South-East Asia are some of thehardest hit by illegal logging. By the mid-nineties95 per cent of Asia’s frontier forests were gone.
4
 Eighty per cent or more of all timber production inIndonesia is thought to be illicit, as is more thantwo-thirds of logging in Papua New Guinea.
5
TheAmerican Forest & Paper Association estimatethat ten per cent of Malaysian log exports are of suspicious origin.
6
These three countries betweenthem account for 60 per cent of worldwide exportsof tropical logs, while the two biggest importers of tropical wood –China and Japan - are also in theregion.
7
Altogether, sixty percent of tropicaltimber in international trade moves between thecountries of South-East and East Asia,
8
and it canbe estimated that a total of over nine million cubicmetres of illegal tropical logs, sawn-timber andplywood worth 2.3 billion dollars was tradedwithin the region in 2003.
9
At least a quarter of this timber was illegally exported.
10
 Recognising the urgent need for a coordinatedresponse, in 2001 the countries of the regionissued a declaration in which they committed towork together to tackle illegal logging andassociated trade.
11
Since then, Indonesia hassigned additional bilateral agreements with bothChina and Japan.
12
 Unfortunately, almost no shipments of illegalwood have actually been halted as a result. Onlyone small shipment of stolen timber fromIndonesia has been prevented from entering eitherChina or Japan, and progress elsewhere in theregion has been little better.
13
Indeed, it evenremains unclear exactly
how
such illegal timbershipments could be stopped in future.
Two and a half billion dollars of stolen timber is traded between the countries of East and South- East Asia each year 
Halting the Trade in Stolen Timber in Asia
Stemming the Tide:
Left 
: Trade intropical timberin SE/East Asia.
Total volume tradedworldwide 2003 (m
3
)Volume traded between thecountries of SE/East Asia2003 (m
3
)Percentage traded withinthe SE/East Asia regionLogs
15,255,705 8,381,667 55%
Sawn
8,548,661 5,256,183 61%
Veneer
1,101,826 592, 099 54%
Ply
8,231,040 5,770,673 70%
TOTAL 33,137,232 20,000,622 60%Of which illegal (est.)
9,069,007 (45%)
Notes: Tropical timber trade figures from ITTO Annual Review 2004; estimate of illegally traded timber calculated using detailed intra-regional trade figuresand estimates of levels of illegality in source countries from AF&PA report (see reference No 5).
 
Since 2001 there have been a small number of attempts made to halt specific shipments of stolen timber in the region, mostly as a result of tip-offs from companies or NGOs rather thanactive enforcement (see table). These casestudies have shown that the problem is as muchone of policy as it is of implementation. Indeed,no country in Asia or elsewhere has laws whichspecifically prohibit the import of timber orwood products which were illegally sourced inthe country of origin. In the absence of suchlaws, enforcement officials are left with very fewlegal tools with which to act – and even these arepoorly understood.In order for trade in stolen wood to be effectivelycountered, it is critical that importing countriesin the region first clarify the existing legal basisto act, and then work with producer countries toseek simple means of expanding it. Greater effortis needed to improve co-operation and enforce-ment, but this alone will not solve the problem.
CITES
In many timber importing countries in Asia andelsewhere, the only legal tool enforcementofficials can use to seize imports of stolen woodand prosecute those responsible is theConvention on International Trade inEndangered Species (CITES). CITES-listedspecies are subject to strict trade controls andrequire special paperwork, and all countries havelaws to enable enforcement officials to seizeshipments traded without valid documents.The only timber species currently listed onCITES which is traded in significant volumes inAsia is ramin (
Gonystylus spp
.). Severe illegalexploitation of the species in Indonesia led thegovernment to list ramin on Appendix III of CITES in 2001. The listing had a dramatic effectin reducing the illegal trading of the species, andthe closure of markets to Indonesian raminassisted the government in halting illegal cuttingof the species within their borders.
15
Followingthe CITES listing there have been a number of major seizures of illegal Indonesian raminaround the world, including in Asia. Indeed, inSingapore and China the only seizures of illegally sourced timber and wood productswhich have ever taken place have been of raminwithout CITES documents.Though CITES is not the ultimate answer to theproblem, listings under the Convention offer apowerful tool with which to empower customsofficials in importing countries to act againstshipments of illegal timber in the medium term.Further listings of commercially traded Asiantimber species threatened by illegal trade shouldbe supported, including the Appendix III listingof merbau (
 Intsia spp
.), which is currently beingconsidered by Indonesia.
Above: 
Attempts to haltshipments ofillegallysourced timberin SE/East Asiasince 2001.
14
 
CITES
2
Date Source Location Cargo Details
March 2004 Indonesia Malaysia(China)Raminsawntimber2317 cubic metres seized at port in Peninsular Malaysia following tip-off;timber was due for transhipment for China / Hong Kong / Taiwan; timberlater released for onward shipment (see box on page 3).Sept 2002 Indonesia Singapore Raminsawntimber120 tonnes of sawn ramin seized following anonymous tip-off; timberrepatriated to Indonesia at importer’s expense.2005 Indonesia China RaminproductsOne small seizure of ramin processed products without CITES permits;no fine or other punishment imposed.April 2002 Indonesia China Merbau roundlogsVessel MV Everwise, carrying 4300 cubic metres of merbau logs illegallyexported from Papua in Indonesia, is detained at Wenzhou port followingformal request by Indonesia to Chinese authorities. Vessel and cargo aresubsequently released without charge.March 2005 Indonesia China Merbau roundlogsEIA/Telapak alert Chinese Customs to arrival in Nansha in Guangdong ofvessel Celebe 3652 carrying 9000 cubic metres of illegal Indonesianmerbau logs with false Malaysian paperwork. No action is taken againstthe vessel or its cargo.Aug 2003 Indonesia Vietnam Bengkirai(yellow balau)logsBarge carrying 2064 cubic metres of round and squared logs exportedcontrary to Indonesian ban seized based on tip-off and subsequentrequest from Indonesian government (see box on page 6). Cargoreleased after 3 weeks for lack of legal basis.2002– 2005 Indonesia Malaysia Round &square logsSeries of seizures in Peninsular Malaysia from June 2002 based onreciprocal regulation banning import of logs from Indonesia.
Enforce- ment alone will not solve the problem.
 
 Utilizing Existing Laws
Utilizing Existing Laws on FalsePaperwork
Most countries have regulations requiringimports of certain timbers and other products tohave been treated to eradicate foreign pests. Thekey document used is the phytosanitarycertificate. In many countries it is considered anoffence to import timber without a validphytosanitary certifiicate from the country of origin, and an offence to provide false or forgedphytosanitary permits. In November 2004 EIA/ Telapak undercover investigators were told by aHong Kong-based timber dealer how heorganised shipments of illegal Indonesian logsfor shipment to Chinese ports using falseMalaysian paperwork including phytosanitarycertificates (see box on next page).
18
Analysisshows that Chinese quarantine laws specifyconsiderable penalties for such falsification,
19
 but the regulations are poorly enforced and nolog shipment from Indonesia has ever beenhalted on this basis.In addition most governments have customsregulations which require that all foreigncargoes are accompanied by valid standardshipping documents, including ‘certificates of origin’ issued by the source country. It iscommon practice for log smugglers in Asia toprovide false certificates of origin for shipmentsof contraband timber – especially where theproduct in question is banned from export fromthe true source. The giant cargo vesselsregularly bringing illegal Indonesian logs intoZhangjiagang port in China (see box over page)were all accompanied by forged documentsfalsely stating the origin of the logs as Malaysia.In another case, when a UK garden furnitureretailer asked its Vietnamese supplier for proof of origin of the timber, a Malaysian certificate of origin for yellow balau logs was provided.Subsequent checks made by the Malaysianauthorities at the request of EIA/Telapak revealed that the document was a forgery.
20
 It is not only Malaysian documents which areroutinely forged. Shipments of illegalIndonesian logs transiting through thePhilippines en route to India are known to havebeen accompanied by false documents fromPapua New Guinea.
21
Other standard shippingdocuments are also often falsified. A barge of stolen logs from Indonesia destined for Vietnamin August 2003 was reported to have provided afalse ‘Port Clearance’ to officials at Da Nang,claiming the vessel had come from a port in
3
Case Study – Seizure of Ramin inMalaysia
In February 2004 officials discovered 2317 cubic metresof illegal ramin in Johor port on the tip of the Malaysianpeninsula. The wood had originated in Indonesia and wasnot accompanied by CITES permits. It was the largestever haul of illegal CITES listed timber in Asia.The stolen ramin had been arriving from Sumatra onwooden vessels and air-dried in the port in preparationfor onward transhipment in containers to Hong Kong,Taiwan and mainland China. The local agent handlingthe business had confirmed to EIA/Telapak investigatorsthat though the timber was from Indonesia it was leavingthe port bearing Malaysian paperwork which ensured aneasy onward passage. Around 85
 
000 cubic metres of stolen ramin had been passing through the port eachyear – more than twice the global legal supply.
16
 Unfortunately a loophole in local CITES laws governingfree trade zones forced Malaysian officials to release thestolen timber for onward shipment. Faxed warnings weresent to CITES offices in the destination countries, but notuntil long after the shipments would have arrived.
17
Thestolen wood was thus able to re-enter international trade,while the Malaysian companies involved receivedpayment and escaped prosecution.
 
Above: 
IllegalIndonesianramin air-drying atJohor port,Malaysia,November2003.
 ©I  A /   e l   a  p a 

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