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African Log Bans Matter

Investments by Chinese companies in Africa’s forest sector have boomed in recent years, often playing a significant role in national economies, rural communities and stimulating technological transfer, especially related to timber processing. Unfortunately, the win-win vision developed by Chinese and African governments is undermined by certain businessmen who are taking a radically different approach. The latter do not hesitate to bypass African national laws or take advantage of complicated if not confusing regula-tions, usually helped by accomplices in the local administrations, in order to supply logs to the manufacturing sector in China.

EIA’s recent analysis shows that, from January 2014 to March 2018, over 89 percent of African log exports to China – worth over 6.7 billion dollars – originated from countries with total or partial log export bans. Many African countries have passed laws limiting or prohibiting the export of logs in an effort to promote domestic processing and to gain more control over illegal logging. Violations of log export bans have negative impacts on fragile economies, communities, and unique ecosystems all over Africa.

The ongoing dialogue under the auspice of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum (FOCAC), one of the most important South-South platforms, offers a unique opportunity for African countries and China to make African log bans effective and forests matter.

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Mr. Lu is the Secretary of the Association of Overseas Chinese in Gabon and a leading figure in the Forest Union of the Asian Industry in Gabon (UFIAG). He doesn’t miss an opportunity to publicly defend Chinese logging companies in Gabon, and to assert that these entrepreneurs operate with the best of intentions.
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