During a virtual meeting of the European Commission’s expert group on protecting and restoring forests on May 4, a representative from the UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre presented data showing that 13 EU member states had imported Myanmar timber products, which were likely to be teak, in the past year. Italy, France, Poland and Spain topped the list, with Italy importing an amount estimated to be worth more than $20 million since March 2022, according to Eurostat.
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.
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