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Brexit: Technical Notice on Timber Imports
2nd October 2018

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Brexit: Technical Notice on Timber Imports

On Monday 24th September 2018 the government issued its latest guidance for business in the event of a “no deal” Brexit.

Included in DEFRA’s list of notices, is the guidance on buying and selling timber if there’s no Brexit deal. The notice sets out how buying and selling timber or timber products covered by EUTR and FLEGT regulation would be affected if the UK leaves the EU in March 2019 without a deal.

The full guidance can be found here.

The guidance follows previous TTF advice that a “no deal” scenario will involve a far greater administrative and cost burden.

After March 2019, in the event of “no deal”, key points include:

 

Placing timber and timber products on the UK market

In a ‘no deal’ scenario, businesses importing timber from the EU and EEA and placing it on the UK market would have to exercise due diligence to demonstrate that they are importing legally harvested timber.

This would involve:

• gathering information on timber, including its species, quantity, supplier, country of harvest and compliance with applicable legislation
• assessing the risk of timber being illegal, applying criteria set out in the regulation
• mitigating any identified risk, by obtaining additional information or taking further steps to verify legality.

There will be no changes for businesses importing from outside the EU, UK producers first placing on the market, and internal UK trade.

When the UK leaves the EU, the government will implement its own UK CITES regulation. Timber covered by a permit under the CITES regulations will be considered to comply with the requirements of EUTR.

The government is working to ensure FLEGT licenses continue to be recognised in the UK in a ‘no deal’ scenario.

 

Exporting timber and timber products from the UK to the EU and EEA
To continue to comply with the EUTR, EU and EEA businesses would be required to apply due diligence to imports from the UK. As a result, it is likely that UK-based exporters would need to provide relevant documentation about the source and legality of their timber exports to EU and EEA-based importers to enable their customers to meet their due diligence obligations under the EUTR.

The documents UK businesses should provide will need to allow EU importers of UK products to fulfil the due diligence requirements of the EUTR given above. EU and EEA businesses importing timber from the UK that is covered by a CITES import permit will not need to conduct due diligence.

 

Trading timber within the UK
Traders must continue to keep a record of who they buy timber from and sell timber to.

 

Enforcement of the UK timber regulation
The way in which the EUTR is enforced would stay the same as now. The Office for Product Safety and Standards would continue to check that appropriate records are maintained by businesses and there would be no additional action businesses need to take at the border as a result of the changes relating to the EUTR.

 

Monitoring organisations
Ones established in the UK would automatically continue to be recognised by the UK and will remain able to carry out their function for the purposes of the UK timber regulation. Monitoring organisations established outside of the UK would not automatically continue to be recognised by the UK in a ‘no deal’ scenario. The EU has indicated it will no longer recognise monitoring organisations based in the UK in a ‘no deal’ scenario.

 

Wood Packaging
Additionally, there is a notice on importing and exporting plants and plant products if there’s no Brexit deal. There is no mention of timber but does allude to Wood Packaging Material:

 

“As indicated in the EU’s technical notice on this topic, in the unlikely event of the UK leaving the EU in March 2019 without a deal, all WPM moving between the UK and the EU would need to be ISPM15 compliant (treated and marked). These products may be subject to official checks either upon entry to the EU or after entry. Defra, the Forestry Commission and other relevant UK plant health authorities are working with the WPM sector who understand what actions they will need to take to manage this new requirement in a no deal scenario.”

The TTF has organised a follow up roundtable with HMRC to discuss wider tax, VAT & cumstoms topics related to the timber trade and will report to members in November.

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