Regulating Trade

Regulating Trade

An important means of supporting the efforts of producer countries in improving the governance of their forest sectors, and so tackling illegality, is through reducing the market for illegal timber. A number of countries, Australia, the EU and the USA, have now introduced legislation which prohibits such imports. In addition, Europe has been negotiating Voluntary Partnership Agreements (VPAs) with a number of producer countries, which aim to ensure that only legally licensed timber is traded.

These measures are an important part of global efforts to reduce the trade in illegal timber. However, changes in trade patterns are lessening the impact of this legislation and raising challenges for its implementation. 

Until recently, the main timber trade flows were from tropical forested countries direct to Europe and North America. However, as markets in developing and emerging economies have grown, the importance of the European and North American markets has declined for many producer countries, and with this, their influence. Another trend has been the emergence of a number of countries as major processing hubs, most notably China. With increasing amounts of timber being traded via these countries, rather than direct to consumer countries, monitoring of supply chains and verifying legality has become more difficult.

More details on these trends can be found in the report ‘Tackling Illegal Logging and the Related Trade’.