USTR Fails to Implement and Enforce Key U.S.-Peru FTA Provisions
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today the Environmental Investigation Agency released a briefing that highlights a significant deficit in implementation and enforcement within the U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and its Annex on Forest Sector Governance.
Illegal logging in Peru and the associated trade remains a serious and unabated problem. In 2007, in response to the crisis of illegal logging in Peru, the United States and Peru agreed to include an Annex on Forest Sector Governance in the U.S.-Peru FTA that lays out a suite of binding obligations on both parties to improve forest governance. While the U.S.-Peru FTA included laudable and innovative new provisions to address environmental impacts in trade agreements, the complete failure to enforce these obligations fundamentally undermines the effectiveness of these measures.
These critical enforcement gaps are exemplified by:
• No action to investigate industry, in the United States or Peru, with documented evidence of repeated and persistent engagement in illegal harvest and trade or prosecute known violations.
• No significant sanctioning of forest engineers responsible for submitting over 1,100 false annual operating plans for concessions that has resulted in the ability to launder tens of millions of dollars of illegal timber.
• Failure to conduct audits of producers and exporters, or to verify suspect shipments.
• A seven year delay in establishing the Forestry Tribunal, a secondary body whose creation was mandated in a 2008 decree to review and make final decisions regarding appeals by concessionaires or permit holders. • A timber tracking system under development that, as of yet, fails to address the frequently fraudulent inputs.
“Despite the efforts of a few courageous forest officials, illegal logging remains the status quo in Peru,” said EIA Executive Director Alexander von Bismarck. “A critical step in ending this illegal trade is for the international marketplace and key consumers, such as the United States, to stop trafficking in stolen, illegal wood. We now have the tools to do this and we need to use them.”
Julia Urrunaga, EIA’s Peru Program Director added, “From the forest engineers that sign false forest inventories and the forest sector officers that approve them, to the exporters and importers that neglect to verify the legality of the timber, and the authorities that should be investigating and sanctioning them: all of these actors are facilitating the illegal timber laundering that destroys forests and violates human rights. Despite the well-documented evidence regarding their illegal activities, almost nothing is being done to stop them.”
The Peruvian and U.S. governments must significantly improve enforcement and actually stop illegal loggers and the related trade from operating with impunity. We have yet to see various commitments and programs of work lead to tangible enforcement results on the ground. The U.S. government also bears a unique responsibility to act. In the past, well-documented instances of illegal timber shipments entering the U.S. market have been provided to the U.S. Trade Representative.
Maggie Dewane, Communications and Press Officer, +1 (202) 483-6621, firstname.lastname@example.org