If you are looking for EIA UK, it's over here.

Leaked EU-Japan Trade Agreement Would Increase Illegal Logging

WASHINGTON, DC – Draft documents published today set the terms for a new trade agreement between the European Union (EU) and Japan (JEFTA) that, in its current form, would likely result in increased illegal logging and timber smuggling, including within Europe’s last remaining virgin forests. The documents, posted to the website trade-leaks.org by Greenpeace, indicate the JEFTA could be the EU’s biggest ever trade deal, covering a trade volume twice as large as the recent EU-Canada deal, known as CETA. An expert report commissioned by the European Commission (EC) warns about JEFTA’s adverse impacts on forests.

“New trade deals bring great risks for lowering environmental standards, unless they contain strict safeguards,” said Alexander von Bismarck, Executive Director of the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA). “The JEFTA is extremely weak in this regard, and threatens to derail the global effort against illegal timber trade by placing Japan’s ineffective voluntary measures on par with the mandatory EU Timber Regulation.”

Illegal logging and associated trade is the world’s third largest transnational crime after counterfeiting and drug trafficking, and on par with human trafficking, generating estimated criminal proceeds of up to 157 billion dollars annually.

Japan is the world’s fourth largest importer of wood products, importing millions of cubic meters every year from countries with high rates of illegal logging, including Malaysia, Indonesia, and Russia. While the EU, the United States, and Australia have mandatory laws prohibiting the imports of illegally harvested timber and requiring importers to trace their wood back to the source of harvest, Japan has no comparable law. Japan’s new Clean Wood Act, which took effect in May 2017, comprises only a voluntary registration system for companies and lacks penalties for violations.

In a 2016 report, EIA revealed how Japan’s indiscriminate sourcing practices are already fueling illegal logging within the EU itself. Based on undercover investigations and trade analysis, EIA documented how an Austrian timber company has for over a decade incentivized illegal logging in Romania’s Carpathian Mountains, generating hundreds of millions of Euros in profits through exports of lumber, primarily to Japan for housing construction. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) recently disassociated from the Austrian company, Holzindustrie Schweighofer, citing “clear and convincing evidence” of illegal timber sourcing. Many of Schweighofer’s largest European buyers, including Hornbach, Leroy Merlin, SPAR and Brico Depot have committed to stop selling Schweighofer products. However, the company’s Japanese buyers continue to prefer Schweighofer’s timber to more expensive Swedish or Finnish lumber.

The EC report notes Japan’s role in undermining Europe’s efforts to establish a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA) with Malaysia, due to Japan’s extensive sourcing of high-risk timber from Malaysia’s Sarawak province. According to the assessment, “Japan’s failure so far to effectively control its imports of illegal timber has arguably had an inhibiting effect on the negotiations between the EU and Malaysia on a VPA.”

The leaked draft JEFTA lacks any binding obligations for Japan to change its wood sourcing practices, since it contains only vague promises to “encourage” conservation and legal timber trade, to “contribute to illegal logging and related trade” and “exchange information.”

The EC assessment notes with concern that JEFTA would put European companies at a disadvantage vis-à-vis the Japanese counterparts in the global market place. Malaysian companies, which export large amounts of timber to Japan, “see no reason to place potential restrictions on their own trade when their major export market requires no such controls. Any expansion of Japan’s timber imports consequent upon the FTA could serve to exacerbate this situation.”

“The European Commission’s own experts concluded that JEFTA will increase trade in illegally sourced timber, with severe consequences for the world’s forests and for legitimate forest producers in the EU,” said von Bismarck. “Japan’s import laws need to be brought in line with international standards – not the other way around.”

Contact:
Maggie Dewane, EIA Press Officer, mdewane@eia-global.org, +1 202 483 6621
Susanne Breitkopf, EIA Policy Director, sbreitkopf@eia-global.org, +1 202 390 5586

View all Press Releases

Recent Blog Posts

Diana's Song: Musicians join indigenous defenders in Peru's threatened Amazon
01/19/2018
It’s not every day that the average person finds herself sitting on a stage in Lima, singing an unknown song in a native Amazonian language to half a million viewers on Facebook Live, with back-up vocals by KT Tunstall and musical accompaniment by Maroon 5’s guitarist, Dave Matthews Band’s bassist, and the lead singers of Guster and Kanaku & El Tigre. But Diana Rios is not your average person, and this was not your average day.
Fighting Forest Crime: CITES takes action against illegal rosewood trade
12/08/2017
At its 69th meeting, the Standing Committee (SC69) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) took important steps to curb the destructive illegal trade in rosewoods from Africa.

Recent Reports

Destino China: resumen complementario al informe Momento de la Verdad
02/14/2018
El reciente informe de EIA, El Momento de la Verdad mostró que la ilegalidad y el fraude son generalizados en todo el sector maderero peruano, y que una gran parte de la madera talada ilegalmente se exporta a decenas de países. En “Destino China: resumen complementario al informe Momento de la Verdad”, EIA parte de los mismos datos y análisis para destacar el mayor mercado de destino para las exportaciones de madera ilegal de Perú: China.
Moment of Truth: Promise or Peril for the Amazon as Peru Confronts its Illegal Timber Trade
02/07/2018
EIA’s new report describes important advances since 2012 in Peru’s fight against illegal logging, timber laundering, and its associated international trade – as well as the backlash against these new approaches.

Recent Press Releases

Peru's Fight Against Illegal Timber Trade at Risk as Authorities Weaken Rules and Regulations
02/07/2018
Peruvian forest authorities are weakening the tools and inspections necessary to prevent illegal timber trade, in the face of overwhelming evidence that Peru’s exports to the United States, China, Mexico and 15 other countries contained high percentages of illegal or high-risk wood. Moment of Truth, a new report from the non-profit Environmental Investigation Agency, demonstrates the extent of this illegal trade and the backlash against attempts to fight it.
Retrocesos en Regulaciones e Inspecciones Debilitan La Lucha Del Perú Contra el Comercio de Madera Ilegal
02/07/2018
Las autoridades forestales peruanas están debilitando las herramientas e inspecciones necesarias para prevenir el comercio de madera ilegal, ante una abrumadora evidencia de que las exportaciones del Perú a Estados Unidos, China, México y otros 15 países incluyeron altos porcentajes de madera ilegal o de alto riesgo. El Momento de la Verdad, un nuevo informe de investigación de la ONG internacional Agencia de Investigación Ambiental (EIA – Environmental Investigation Agency), demuestra los alcances de este tráfico ilegal y las reacciones en contra de las acciones para combatirlo.

Recent Videos

The 'S' Files
02/16/2017
EIA's series of videos exposing Holzindustrie Schweighofer's involvement in illegal logging in Romania,
The 'S' Files, Case #3: Depot Deception
12/21/2016
The latest in EIA's video series, The 'S' Files, Depot Deception shows that Holzindustrie Schweighofer, one of the largest timber companies in Europe, appears to be systematically...
Follow us @eiaenvironment on twitter for the latest updates!
How the U.S. Lacey Act Protects the Planet
The precedent-setting U.S. Lacey Act supports honest industry and protects the planet.
Lumber Liquidators pleads guilty to smuggling timber
Holzindustrie Schweighofer & Illegal Timber
Lumber Liquidators in the Russian Far East
Musicians and the Illegal Timber Trade