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USTR Timber Verification Request Echoes EIA's Concerns About Traceability in Peru

The United States Trade Representative (USTR) took action yesterday under the US – Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (PTPA), calling on the Peruvian government to verify that three 2017 timber shipments from Peru to the United States complied with all applicable Peruvian laws and regulations. This action comes at a time when Peru has demonstrably failed to fulfill its commitments to improve supply chain traceability and transparency of timber products and has instead significantly reduced the quality and quantity of information gathered at the point of export.

People in Peru and throughout the Amazon are risking their lives to protect their forests, so it is essential that timber-consuming countries do whatever they can to ensure they are not perpetuating illegalities - and in many cases systemic violence and corruption - by importing stolen wood. This is especially important at a time in which the Peruvian government has taken steps to reduce transparency in its timber sector.

In its latest report, the Moment of Truth, EIA exposed the systematic exports of illegal timber from Peru to countries around the world, as well as efforts by certain industry and government actors to make real traceability almost impossible. One of the recommendations in the report is for the US government to request additional audits under the PTPA of operators with a proven history of exporting illegal timber. The report also described a scheme in which Peruvian exporters seem to be selectively shipping “green listed” timber (i.e. accompanied by documents linked to verified legal sources) to countries that have demand side laws designed to stop illegal timber trade, like the US, while shipping “red listed” high risk timber (accompanied by documents linked to sources with verified illegalities) to countries that do not have such demand side laws, like China and Mexico.

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In this fourth installment of EIA’s Raw Intelligence series, we introduce you to the company Hua Jia – one of the most emblematic timber companies in Gabon. Hua Jia officials had much to say on how they and others in the industry operate – and cheat their way to profit-laden pockets.
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