“Timber-specific guidelines and reference material for customs are important for the prevention of illegal timber trade,” said Lee Sang-Hyup, Compliance and Facilitation Division, WCO, in Brussels. More than 100 customs officers, forestry officials, timber trade enforcement and private sector representatives from across Malaysia attended the workshop.
Timber is the most valuable natural resource traded globally with an annual turnover estimated in excess of US$300 billion. In 2015, Malaysia alone exported timber and timber products valued at US$5.46 billion, with Japan and the US being its major export markets valued at US$0.98 billion and US$0.74 billion respectively.
Illegal trade is a threat to sustainable forest management with illegal logging and processing estimated to cost the world economy some 10 to 30 percent of the total global timber trade each year. There is also a constant danger that illegally sourced timber can enter the supply chain and be mixed with legally sourced material.
Therefore, customs officers have a vital role in ensuring only legally-sourced timber is imported, exported or transits through Malaysia. “Malaysia needs to be vigilant and diligent to ensure illegal logging and illegal timber trade does not threaten our nation and its natural resources,” said Mme HajjahNorchahayaHashim, deputy director general, MTIB, at her opening speech, who added that Malaysia will help to pilot and test the guidelines using the country’s collective knowledge of the timber trade.
“Combating timber smuggling and illegal timber trade is a high priority in many countries. We stand by ready to provide further assistance wherever needed,” said Chen HinKeong, timber trade programme leader for TRAFFIC.
Steven Johnson, officer-in-charge of ITTO said this initiative, part of ITTO’s Biennial Work Programme for the years 2015-2016 aimed at building customs’ capacity to combat illegal timber trade, will allow customs officers in member countries to support national policies and efforts of agencies working in the forestry sector to safeguard the economic, social and environmental values of their forests.
Funding for this activity has been provided thanks to voluntary contributions of the governments of Japan and the US.