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US blocks Peruvian illegal timber exporter

Earlier today, the office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced a new import ban against a second Peruvian timber exporter, due to official evidence demonstrating that the company has been doing business in timber that was illegally harvested and traded, including exporting it to the United States. The new ban will be enforced against the Peruvian company Inversiones WCA EIRL (WCA), in addition to the one existing since October 2017 against the Peruvian company Inversiones La Oroza SRL. According to the USTR these actions demonstrate the government’s “intensified efforts to keep illegal timber out of the United States.”

EIA welcomes such actions from major consumer countries like the US, which reinforce local laws and seek to prevent their citizens from becoming unwitting accomplices to illegal logging and related crimes – often including corruption, organized crime and human rights violations. Both companies, Inversiones WCA and Inversiones La Oroza, had been identified by EIA ⁠— first in The Laundering Machine (2012) and then in Moment Of Truth (2018) ⁠— as deeply involved in the trade and exports of illegally logged timber from Peru to various destinations around the globe, including the U.S. Sadly, several other Peruvian companies operate in a similar fashion.

“Illegal logging not only destroys forests - negatively impacting the climate and wildlife, but often the timber mafias engaged in the trade threaten the lives and livelihoods of local communities living in and relying upon the forest. Consuming countries must ensure that they are not helping these crimes become profitable,” declared Lisa Handy, EIA’s Director of Forest Campaigns.

The ban is being applied after the results of a verification conducted by the Government of Peru and requested by the U.S. Government, under the framework of the US-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement, documented illegal timber in the chain of custody of a shipment from WCA to the U.S. “The request was made in the context of continued concerns about the practice of illegal logging in Peru,” explains USTR, adding that “since the completion of the report in July 2018, Peru has failed to take enforcement action against WCA.”

“The actions to block companies whose chain of custody is contaminated with illegal products and to increase the controls over timber imports in general are also the best way to support those in the industry that are struggling to work legally and find it difficult to compete with the prices of illegal timber. These measures will benefit the Peruvian producers and exporters who play by the rules,” declared Julia Urrunaga, EIA’s director in Peru.

The statement also highlights the need for Peru to increase its efforts to combat illegal logging, and announces that the U.S. authorities will take additional actions to make sure that the timber from the banned companies will not arrive to the U.S. territory through middle countries or intermediary companies. “In order to enhance implementation of the Oroza and WCA denial of entry orders, USTR has requested that CBP conduct additional due diligence to better identify and deny entry of products and exports of both companies prior to entry into the United States,” states the USTR release.

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