Friday, 24 April 2009

Timber Industry Facing Stringent EU Import Rules

April 25, 2009 The Jakarta Globe

Teguh Prasetyo & Dian Ariffhami

The European Union has taken a firm step against illegal logging by adopting stricter certification rules on timber sold within the bloc’s markets, which could have far-reaching implications for Indonesia’s timber industry.

According to EU lawmakers, all actors in the timber supply chain must be responsible for ensuring that illegally sourced wood does not find its way to the EU market. Two years after the regulation enters into force, member states would have to ensure that all timber products in the market are properly labeled.

The stricter requirements could affect the country’s timber exports, which last year reached $1.2 billion. The nation’s producers could face problems because certified timber products are generally more expensive on the international market.

Nevertheless, Indonesian exporters have begun to certify their products through surveyor companies.

“We have received more demands for certification from timber companies recently, in line with their greater need to comply with quality control and other requirements such as eco-labeling imposed by the European Union and the United States,” Supriyanto, senior manager of the forestry and environment department of certification consultant Sucofindo, said on Friday.

Supriyanto said stricter controls on timber products had been imposed by the EU and the United States to ensure that imported timber products come from sustainably developed forests.

Ambar Tjahyono, chairman of the Furniture Industry and Handicrafts Association, or Asmindo, on Friday said the group welcomed higher standards.

“So far there are few exporters who have finished the certification process with surveyor companies due to stricter requirements and the long process of certification and labeling,” he said.

Ambar said he hoped the stricter controls would not seriously hurt the timber and furniture industries because buyers outside the EU and the United States were seeking cheap timber.

“Timber sold without certificates in overseas markets is mostly cheaper than those with certificates and labeling,” he said.