UKTR Alerts – July

UKTR Alerts: July 2021

ALERT · Timber Trade Federation · 21 July 2021

1. Enforcement actions

A UK furniture company Stylecraft (formerly known as India Jane) pleaded guilty for breaching the Timber Regulation for failing to carry out due diligence on timber products imported into the UK. The product was a Bruges Sideboard imported from China in 2018.

Full list of all UK enforcement actions can be found HERE.

2. Myanmar

UK announced new sanctions on Myanmar Timber Enterprise (MTE).

Myanmar Timber Enterprise is a state-owned enterprise which operates under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation (MONREC) and provides funding directly to the Ministry of Planning and Finance (MOPF). There are reasonable grounds to suspect that MTE, is under the control of, and/or is associated with, the State Administration Council (SAC), via its subservient relationship with MONREC.

 The Myanmar military seized power from civilian leaders on 1 February in a coup d’état and established a military junta. Since then all state institutions have come under the control of the State Administration Council (SAC), who oversee the governance and expenditure of ministries. The SAC/military junta undermines democracy and, together with the Myanmar Security Forces, is responsible for the repression of the civilian population.

 Further or alternatively, there are reasonable grounds to suspect that MTE makes available funds or economic resources, to the SAC/military junta that could contribute to undermining democracy and repressing the civilian population.

More info:

The UK position on timber from Myanmar remains the same that currently there was no viable way to carry out due diligence on timber from Myanmar that would comply with the regulations. This is irrespective of whether the timber comes directly from Myanmar, or through third countries, including member states of the EU. UK Competent Authority uses trade flow data, customs data and intelligence to inform understanding of which products within scope of the timber regulations are being placed on the market.

 Advice to TTF members: NO import of timber from Myanmar, either directly or not, is possible to be legal under the Timber Regulation.

3. Ukraine

New NGO report released on Ukraine – EU says neither FSC nor Ukraine government can guarantee wood is legal. The report analysed the latest EU common position paper on Ukraine. TTF has summarized the recommended risk mitigation measures and references HERE.

Advice to TTF members: To document all the check and actions you have taken on verifying the harvesting sources and forest legality documents as part of your risk assessment and mitigation procedure. Avoid importing unless the necessary mitigation measures are in place and risks addressed successfully.  

4. Russia   

New report by Earthsight issued on issues of illegal salvage/sanitary logging in Russia’s Irkutsk oblast province (east-centra Russia). The report claimed several violations of forestry and environmental laws in FSC certified concessions in the region.

FSC has subsequently issued a Q&A and Advice Note on actions taken to address risks of illegal sanitary logging entering FSC-certified supply chains. According to FSC, illegal salvage logging is one of the most prevalent activities for obtaining illegal timber in the country.

Advice to TTF members: Certification alone is not sufficient to prove “negligible” risk under UKTR especially when sourcing from high-risk countries, members must be able to demonstrate that additional measures have been put in place to understand, assess and, where necessary, mitigate risks associated with all supply chain players along the chain.

5. China

Members may be aware of the recent Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) US report on Chinese plywood. The report highlighted the key weaknesses associated with sourcing tropical plywood from China between 2016 and 2018.

The TTF is aware of these issues and have been working with members since 2018 to improve awareness and ensure additional mitigation measures are adopted. This includes 3rd party testing and use of alternative low-risk species.

The TTF is not in a position to verify any data or claims made by the NGO nor any individual companies. We welcome the work of NGOs and as we have stressed before, NGOs have a vital role to play in helping to shape due diligence and initiate transformations across the industry.

We will continue to monitor the work of our members and would like to also remind members to ensure their due diligence and testing regime is consistently and appropriately used for all products containing high-risk species, wherever applicable.

6. TTF Q&A session

The next TTF Q&A clinic is on 26th July 2021 on Zoom. This is a monthly one-hour session for members to exchange questions on all topics related to member’s operations, from plant health, UK CA to UKTR due diligence. Open to TTF members only. Register HERE.

Advice to TTF members: Are previous discussed questions and summary answers are now available online HERE. We will keep adding to this page after every session.