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USTR Requests Peru Timber Verification

Washington, D.C. - Today, the Office of the United States Trade Representative announced that it has requested the Government of Peru to verify that a 2015 timber shipment exported to the United States from Peru complied with all applicable Peruvian laws and regulations. This is the first such verification request under the United States-Peru Trade Promotion Agreement (PTPA), which entered into force in 2009. The timber verification provision is a monitoring tool provided for in the PTPA to ensure enforcement of Peruvian forestry laws throughout the supply chain, so that U.S. timber importers and consumers can be confident that the timber they buy from Peru is legally harvested and exported.

The United States and Peru have an active record of engagement to monitor implementation of obligations under the PTPA Environment Chapter and Forest Annex. In January 2013, for example, the United States and Peru agreed upon a bilateral action plan to target continued challenges in the forestry sector, such as improving systems to track and verify the chain of custody of timber exports and ensuring timely criminal and administrative proceedings for forestry-related crimes and infractions. The United States has supported Peru’s efforts to address these and other challenges by providing nearly $75 million in technical assistance and capacity building since the PTPA entered into force, including development of an electronic timber tracking system that will trace every log from stump to port in order to better detect and address illegal logging.  While there has been significant progress in addressing illegal logging, including recent public reports of seizures of illegal timber, challenges remain.

“Today’s announcement is an important step forward in our shared commitment to combat illegal logging, which threatens our environment and the legitimate businesses that are abiding by the rules. We look forward to working closely with Peru as it conducts this verification,” said Ambassador Michael Froman.

The Forest Annex has catalyzed meaningful reform in Peru’s forestry sector since its entry into force, including Peru’s actions to:

• establish key forest sector institutions, such as an independent forestry oversight body - Organismo de Supervisión de los Recursos Forestales y de Fauna Silvestre (OSINFOR) -which has performed over 600 supervisions of 2.0 million hectares during 2014 alone, resulting in thousands of resolutions to sanction illegal activity or mandate corrective actions to improve forest management;
• amend its criminal code to include substantial penalties for illegal logging and wildlife trafficking;
• adopt laws and other measures necessary to comply with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES); and
• enact a new Forestry and Wildlife Law and implementing regulations that improve forest sector governance.

Background

The PTPA contains a landmark Environment Chapter and Forest Annex, which includes a requirement for Peru to conduct audits and verifications of particular timber producers and exporters upon request from the United States and provides for the United States’ participation in the verification process.

To read more about the PTPA Forest Annex, please click here.