The European Commission is investigating potential illegal imports of Russian birch plywood products into the European Union. CELEX:32023R1649:EN:TXT.pdf (europa.eu) There has been a significant increase in imports of Russian birch plywood into Turkey and possibly Kazakhstan, and an increase in exports of birch plywood from both countries to the EU—although neither has been a significant producer of birch plywood in the past. The EU banned Russian wood after Russia invaded Ukraine.
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.
Not long after imposing sanctions on wood imports from Russia and Belarus, Europe saw an influx of wood supposedly coming from Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. Authorities say sanctions-busters are increasingly mislabeling wood as Central Asian so they can keep bringing it in to the EU.
Traders are evading European Union sanctions on Russian and Belarussian wood by declaring that it really comes from Central Asia.
Customs in Lithuania and Latvia are scrambling to keep up with the sudden influx of timber with suspect paperwork from Kazakhstan or Kyrgyzstan.
Reporters found several Kyrgyz and Belarusian companies that offered false paperwork so traders could ship banned Belarusian wood to the EU.
NUR-SULTAN. KAZINFORM Kazakhstan has imposed ban on export of certain types of timber to prevent illegal re-export of timber from its territory, Kazinform learned from the Ministry of Finance State Revenue Committee. The ban was imposed by the order of Minister of Industry and Infrastructure Development as of June 7, 2022 No322 «On some issues of regulation of the export types of timber» which entered into force on June 8, 2022
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