Mon Zin, a founding member of the Global Myanmar Spring Revolution, told the Green Left and Socialist Alliance forum that timber and wood imports increased between 2020–21.
For the past 11 years, Global Witness has documented and denounced waves of threats, violence and killings of land and environmental defenders across the world, and 2022 marks the beginning of our second decade documenting lethal attacks. The world has changed dramatically since we started documenting these in 2012. But one thing that has not changed is the relentlessness of the killings.
Last year, at least 177 defenders lost their lives for protecting our planet, bringing the total number of killings to 1,910 since 2012. At least 1,390 of these killings took place between the adoption of the Paris Agreement on 12 December 2015 and 31 December 2022.
The ED has begun a crackdown against syndicates involved in environmental crimes, including illegal mining of natural resources and smuggling of wildlife parts. The agency said it has taken up a probe into 17 cases related to environmental crimes, and 42 specifically related to wildlife.
The agency also started booking syndicates engaged in plundering of natural resources under the money laundering act. This includes illegal mining of coal, sand and other natural resources. There have been cases of illegal logging, wildlife and environment related cases.
With opening of the new Sittwe port on May 9, 2023, located at the Kaladan river delta, trade between Myanmar and India is likely to get a boost. Exports from India to Myanmar through this new shipping route may include construction materials such as cement, steel and bricks, among others, whereas India’s imports from Myanmar would be rice, timber, fish and seafood.
The new port opens an alternate sea route for the north-eastern part of India through Myanmar.
The EU Deforestation Regulation (EU-DR), adopted by the EU Council earlier this month, covers about 479 items exported by India such as meat, leather hide, wood furniture, paper and coffee, and is set to affect Indian exports worth an estimated annual $1.3 billion.
The significant products affected and their export value to the EU are Coffee (USD 435.4 million), Leather hides, skin, preparations (USD 83.5 million), Oil cake (USD 174.5 million), Paper, paperboard (USD 250.2 million) and Wood furniture (USD 334.6 million). This is estimated by a Delhi-based research firm Global Trade Research Initiative.
The report suggested the government take a few steps to deal with the regulation and that includes taking up the matter with the World Trade Organization (WTO) along with other affected countries as it violates MFN (most favoured nation) and national treatment principles. “India has a functioning blockchain-enabled trace and track system being implemented by the Agricultural & Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) for grape exports to the EU and other regions.”
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.
U.S. hardwood exports to India reached an all-time high in 2022 with the value of hardwood lumber and veneer exports totaling USD 8.618 million, according to AHEC.
Exports of U.S. hardwood lumber to India jumped significantly last year to reach an all-time high, and beating the record set in 2021, indicating far more than just a post-COVID recovery. Increasing certification requirements, and both the restricted and deteriorating quality of supply of domestic species is driving Indian furniture manufacturers to look at viable alternative hardwood species not only for the domestic furniture and interiors market, but also for re-exports of value-added products.
Indonesia’s furniture and crafts exports reached US$2.8 billion in 2022 and the government hopes that exports will increase to US$5 billion in 2024.
The Ministry of Industry has two strategies to improve profitability in the sector. First, greater emphasis on the domestic market as the size of this market, especially the middle class segment, continues to expand. The second is exports to non-traditional markets for example India and the Middle East where growth in the property sector is relatively stable.
The Indonesian Furniture and Craft Association (HIMKI) chairman, Abdul Sobur, revealed that exports to the EU declined in 2022 so HIMKI members are now investigating the Middle East markets such as Qatar, Israel and the United Arab Emirates.
Logging has accelerated amid the post-coup conflict, with sanctions pushing smugglers to open new routes to India, while activists and locals accuse both the military and resistance groups of profiting off the plunder.
Fighting has broken out across Myanmar since the military overthrew the elected National League for Democracy, with the worst violence reported in Sagaing Region, where anti-regime People’s Defence Forces have carved out rural strongholds. Based on interviews with residents, Frontier understands illegal logging has surged in Kani, Yinmabin, Kantbalu, Indaw and Banmauk townships in Sagaing, as well as in parts of Bago Region, where the junta has more control.
Local environmental activists, PDF members and ordinary residents told Frontier that most of the timber is being smuggled to China and, more recently, India.
This article highlights the result of investigations by the Uttarakhand (in norther India) Goods and Services (GST) Department on illegal timber sales using false bills, the setting up of fictitious businesses to cover up the illegal sale and purchase of timber and its products, tax evasion, giving legal cover to raw materials bought from the black market.
Furthermore, the nexus was involved in transferring fraudulent input tax credits to Uttar Pradesh, and Yamunanagar in Haryana on the basis of paper trading by producing phoney invoices and without really supplying any items to those locations.
Deforestation Inc. reporters in a dozen countries investigated weak government efforts and loopholes allowing companies to keep trading Myanmar teak, a natural resource controlled by the military junta.
The Deforestation Inc. investigation by ICIJ and its 39 partners found that timber traders in three continents have continued to import Myanmar teak by the ton to supply shipbuilders and furniture manufacturers around the world, while consumers may be unwittingly financing the junta’s repressive campaign.
The reporters visited boat shows in Fort Lauderdale, Amsterdam and Paris to learn about the international teak market. They interviewed timber traders in 11 countries and pored over documents leaked from Myanmar’s tax agency and shared with ICIJ by Justice for Myanmar, a human rights group, U.K.-based news outlet Finance Uncovered and Distributed Denial of Secrets, a data transparency group.
Cases from Slovenia, Croatia, USA, Italy, the Netherlands, Germany, New Zealand, Turkey, Taiwan, France, and India are included.
The Indian Express spoke to traders located in Myanmar and India who say the conflict on the ground and frequent change of regulations by Myanmar authorities pose challenges. The article summarizes why Myanmar teak is so highly prized, international laws and regulations that are prohibiting the sale in Myanmar timber products, and loopholes that could endanger India’s exports of timber products manufactured from Myanmar wood.
Traders claim that some Myanmar wood was purchased before the 2021 coup. Trade data also reveals some Indian companies simply put “Asia” in the column for origin of the wood, without specifying which country. Traders also write “imported” on transit passes in the space for declaring where the teak was purchased from.
Traders interviewed noted that their buyers were free to do DNA testing on the hardwood for traceability of origins. However, this science has not been introduced in India either by timber traders or by police forces, for instance, as evidence against smugglers who are frequently caught along the Indo-Myanmar border with stolen truck consignments.
There is a clear discrepancy in the reporting of the trade in the endangered species by the exporting and importing countries, says wildlife trade monitoring organisation TRAFFIC.
These consignments were exported to China (53.5%), Hong Kong (25.0%), Singapore (17.8%) and the United States of America (3.5%) from 2016 to 2020.
The species is under severe pressure from illegal logging and harvesting. Under the foreign trade policy of India, the import of Red Sanders is prohibited, while export is restricted.
NEW DELHI: In what could be a relief for handicraft exporters, India has got rules for export of timber-based products made of Shisham or North India Rosewood (Dalbergia sissoo) eased under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of wild fauna and flora (CITES) during its ongoing meeting in Panama.
The Assam forest department officials on Monday busted an illegal bench mill at Mohanbari in Dibrugarh. According to a forests official, a modern machine which was used for cutting timber and a huge quantity of timber were seized during the raid.
The forest personnel immediately seized more than 35 pieces of valuable timber, sources said, adding that the timber was smuggled from Karbi Anglong by forest mafia.
Arunachal Pradesh minister Mama Natung on Tuesday informed the Assembly that the state forest department will soon convene a meeting with its counterpart in Assam for evolving a mechanism to check rampant illegal felling of trees by timber mafias in jungles along the border of the two North-eastern neighbours.
The India State of Forest Report 2021 has vindicated what activists, lawyers and academicians have been saying all along—Arunachal Pradesh, which is the second-largest forested state in India, is losing its primary forests and that too at a large scale every passing year.
The Northeast is India’s greenest region, accounting for one-fourth of the country’s forest cover. However, recent increases in deforestation now threaten the region’s pristine biodiversity.
The rate of deforestation in India’s Northeast has increased sharply over a span of 18 years, according to data from the online monitoring platform Global Forest Watch collated by the University of Maryland.
Click here to access the Global Illegal Logging and Associated Trade (ILAT) Risk assessment tool and to download the Forest Trends User Guide describing the functionality of the ILAT Risk Data Tool.
Click here to access the Cattle Data Tool.