Missouri Timber Price Trends
January - March, 2007
Washington: Proposed bill seeks to curb trade in illegal timber
It could be your new hardwood floor or coffee table with a rich
mahogany hue. Although the wood may look good, there is a strong
chance it came from timber harvested illegally in places such as
Honduras, Indonesia or Peru, labor and environmental groups say.
Now a bipartisan group of congress members wants to crack down on
illegal logging around the world. A bill introduced Tuesday would ban
U.S. imports of wood products derived from illegally harvested timber.
Much like the movie "Blood Diamond" which portrays diamonds as fueling
a brutal civil war in West Africa, the logging bill is aimed at
reminding U.S. consumers to consider where their new bedroom dresser
or hardwood floor comes from, said Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., the
bill's chief sponsor.
"Illegal logging is a problem that crosses national boundaries to
affect communities, companies and ecosystems alike" Blumenauer said,
adding that he hopes to "raise the profile" of illegal logging so that
consumers pressure retailers to reveal the source of furniture and
flooring, just as many do with so-called fair-trade coffee. As much as
30 percent of U.S. hardwood imports are from suspicious or illegal
sources, according to the U.S. International Trade Commission. Much of
the wood is sent to China, where it is processed at low cost and then
exported to the United States and other countries.
Illegal logging costs U.S. companies as much as $1 billion a year in
lost exports and reduced prices for timber products, according to the
American Forest and Paper Association, a trade group that represents
the wood products industry.
The logging bill, co-sponsored by Reps. Robert Wexler, D-Fla., and
Jerry Weller, R-Ill., would extend the Lacey Act -- which prohibits
importation of wildlife taken in violation of conservation laws -- to
apply to wood and timber products.
The measure would ban the import, export, purchase or sale of timber
products made in violation of any domestic or foreign law or
The forest and paper association stopped short of endorsing the bill
but said it welcomes increased interest shown by Congress in the
Earlier this month, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus,
D-Mont., asked the International Trade Commission to investigate
Chinese trade practices he said are hurting U.S. hardwood plywood
Last month, the U.S. Trade Representative filed a complaint with the
World Trade Organization targeting Chinese subsidies of illegally
The forest and paper association warned that laws targeting U.S.
imports could increase costs for legitimate producers while decreasing
risks associated with illegal production.
"It is essential that policy responses do not create perverse
incentives by raising the costs of 'legal' forest products, thus
making illegal logging even more profitable," the group said.
A host of environmental, labor and business groups endorsed the bill,
including the Environmental Investigation Agency, Sierra Club, World
Wildlife Fund, Defenders of Wildlife, Natural Resources Defense
Council, United Steel Workers and Wood Flooring International.
Sources: Associated Press.
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