ALEXANDRIA, VA - The International Wood Products Association (IWPA) announced today the launch of its responsible trade initiative with Burma. The unprecedented initiative is connected to the work of IWPA and IWPA Members, who are promoting forest management reform in Burma and are now establishing direct trade with Myanmar under a license recently issued to IWPA by the U.S. Treasury Department.

The IWPA Burma Responsible Trade Initiative is designed to allow U.S. wood traders to work directly with Myanmar industry and government agencies involved in the timber trade. The Initiative is only available to IWPA members, who are covered under the Treasury Department license.

"IWPA's goal is to be a positive force in Burma by encouraging the development of independent legality verification and sustainable management of Burma's forest resources," said Cindy Squires, Esq. Executive Director of the IWPA. "Currently, logging legality verification programs are in their infancy in Burma and our hope is that by launching direct trade with Myanmar we can provide critical market support for the establishment of such programs."

IWPA members participating in the Initiative have committed to encourage the Myanmar timber industry and government to put into place reforms that seek to ensure that logs are harvested in Burma in a sustainable manner and in compliance with Burmese law.

U.S. importers operating under the new license will be encouraging the mills supplying product to U.S. importers to work toward independent legality verification. IWPA will be working with counterparts in the European Union and Australia via the Global Timber Forum to assist and encourage Myanmar to put into place such reforms.

The specific license recently issued by Treasury Department permits IWPA Members to trade with the Myanmar Timber Enterprise (MTE), the state-owned enterprise responsible for the timber trade in Burma. MTE is under the Myanmar Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry (MOECAF). Recent changes in Burmese law required traders to deal with MTE in order to export wood. MTE is currently on the Treasury Department's List of Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons. In light of the license to IWPA, only IWPA members are eligible for this one-year direct trade program.

"Myanmar forest cover is estimated at 47% of its total land area and is home to about 45% of the world's natural teak," said Cindy Squires. "This initiative will help wood traders meet their responsibility to know their supply chains by allowing for direct trade."

As part of this initiative, IWPA and its members will also be promoting trade in lesser-known species to take pressure off of popular species.

Established in 1956, IWPA is the leading international trade association representing the North American imported wood products industry. IWPA members include companies and trade organizations engaged in the import of hardwoods and softwoods from sustainably managed forests in more than 30 nations across the globe. Association members consist of three key groups involved in the import process: U.S. importers and consuming industries, offshore manufacturers and the service providers that facilitate trade.

IWPA's mission is to build acceptance and demand in North America for globally sourced wood products from sustainably managed forests.

Source: IWPA

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