GTF shares association research findings with EGILAT country members

PAPUA NEW GUINEA, 16th AUGUST 2018: GTF’s new Asia-Pacific Representative Stephen Mitchell presented at APEC’s 14th Experts Group on Illegal Logging and Associated Trade (EGILAT) meeting in Port Moresby Papua New Guinea in August.

Held twice a year and open to government representatives of all 21 Pacific Rim member economies, the meeting is an exchange of information to promote trade in legal forest products. This meeting was attended by 13 members.

US, Japan, Australia and Korea gave updates on their domestic regulations while USA, Chinese Taipei and Malaysia PNG updated the meeting on their work on Timber Legibility Guidance (TLGs) based on a common template. Australia, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Chinese Taipei and the US have submitted completed TLGs to the APEC Secretariat.  Japan and China are going to submit updated versions in due course. China, Indonesia, PNG, the Philippines and Viet Nam reported progress on their work. All completed TLGs will be posted on the APEC website.

The meeting also heard presentations from GTF, RAFT, Forest Trends, WWF China, PNG Forest Industries Association, and National Home (China). Forest Trends presentation focused on work with Viet Nam trade associations to analyse consistency (or inconsistencies) in trade data between Viet Nam and other countries such as Lao and China.   On Vietnam/China trade statistics and trends, RAFT reported on options for further progress of a China Timber Legality Assurance System beyond a purely voluntary take-up. WWF China set out some corporate experiences with sustainable timber procurement.

Stephen provided a summary of the results of GTF’s ASK (Association Survey for Knowledge) surveys for China, Latin America, Africa and Australia. He showed that, on average, 87% of wood industry participants are micro, small or medium sized businesses with little capacity. Therefore, a trade association-based approach for capacity building and responsible trade promotion, in cooperation with government and corporate focused efforts, is essential to developing responsible trade.

Stephen also provided a summary of the responsible trade summits & capacity trainingthat have been undertaken to date by GTF in Latin America and Africa. He raised the prospect of Proposed Asia-Pacific Industry Association SE Asia Round table in early 2019.

Earlier in the week GTF also participated in the Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue on Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Best Practices to Promote Legal Trade of Wood Product. The dialogue had over 70 participants, including government officials from the APEC economies, corporate businesses, representatives from forest certification schemes and certification bodies, NGOs and other stakeholders.

The participants in the Dialogue shared experiences and further enhanced their capacities to develop and apply strong CSR practices in their economies to promote legal wood trade.

The participants heard a mix of international and local success stories. Of particular interest was the work of PNG Balsa based in East New Britain Province, a fully integrated balsa wood growers and manufactures of sandwiched balsa wood products used to manufacture end products for the wind-turbine, marine and automotive industries.  Their balsa is 100 percent plantation grown on company land holdings and in long-term partnership with local landowners who value balsa as a sustainable crop that augments their traditional reliance on cocoa and copra.

A CSR Best Practice Document will be produced as an outcome of this event and shared on the APEC website.