The revelations mirror Deforestation Inc. findings from around the world, which showed how auditing firms hired as environmental verifiers often ignore or fail to identify serious transgressions by their clients.
Audit firms in Finland, Indonesia, Chile, India, and Germany are also mentioned.
Before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, about 80% of all birch plywood globally was produced in Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.
After the fifth package of sanctions imposed on Russia by the EU finally entered into force in July 2022, the import of roundwood and wood products, including birch plywood, from Russia to the EU was banned. However, according to information and statistics obtained from the market, it seems that illegal Russian birch plywood continues to be imported to Europe from third countries.
This is reflected in increased imports of birch plywood from countries such as Kazakhstan and Turkey. Considering the production capacity of Kazakhstan, we can see that the country does not have sufficient birch plywood production to be able to deliver the volumes recorded in the statistics.
Illegal birch plywood travels to the European markets in many ways. The import ban is evaded by transit through a third country, for example. The third countries may also make minor changes to the plywood, after which the country where the changes were made is reported as the products’ country of origin. Another way is to use a false tariff heading so that the product is excluded from sanctions.
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