On Sept. 26, 2012, then Secretary of State Clinton announced that the United States would begin the process of easing restrictions on imports of Burmese goods in response to the reforms that have taken place in that country. The U.S. government began easing the ban on imports into the U.S. of products from Burma.
Despite these general advances, the Myanmar Timber Enterprise, which is involved in nearly all aspects of Burma forestry, remains on the Treasury Department’s List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons. Recent changes in Burmese law required traders to deal with MTE in order to export wood. Believing the conditions are ripe to reengage with MTE, IWPA sought a license on behalf of its members. The license was first issued for one year, ending on July 31, 2015, and has been renewed and is in place until July 31, 2017. Importantly, the license covers IWPA Voting and Associate Members, but does not apply to non-IWPA members. It is a specific license provided to IWPA and not a general waiver.
An important part of the U.S. Government’s decision to allow this trade was IWPA’s commitment to encourage the Myanmar timber industry and government to put into place reforms to ensure that logs are harvested in Burma in a sustainable manner and in compliance with Burmese law. U.S. importers operating under the license are to encourage all mills supplying product to U.S. importers to work toward independent legality verification. U.S. importers will work with supplying mills to identify lesser-known wood species that could have a market in the U.S. and promote sustainable harvesting and legality verification for these species.
IWPA will coordinate activities, via the Global Timber Forum network, with its European and Australian counterparts who share these same goals and are already working in this area. The Tropical Forest Foundation / Indonesia, widely recognized for teaching the principles of sustainable forest management, has conducted limited fieldwork in support of this effort.
Below are a number of documents regarding this effort that will be updated as information becomes available:
IWPA Member Information
IWPA, working with our outside legal counsel, has developed a license specific compliance program to assist members interested in direct and indirect trade with Burma. We are asking for a contribution of $5,000 to the IWPA Special Project Fund to cover the costs for the development of the program. Participants in the Special Project Fund will have full access to the IWPA compliance program. In addition to the general program, IWPA members can make separate arrangements with our outside counsel for individualized advice about their trade with Myanmar.
If you would like more information, contact Joe O’Donnell at 703-820-6696