“Supporting growth, transparency and diversification of international timber trade.” That’s the welcome line of the new Gateway to International Timber Trade, the European Timber Trade Federation’s new online timber sector legislation and industry information website.
Launched on January 7, www.timbertradeportal.com is a ‘one-stop information point’ for timber industry regulation and broad trade and business data in selected countries. Its aim is simultaneously to help international traders do business with tropical and other suppliers worldwide and ensure the trade is legal.
The industry worldwide faces increasingly strict rules to curb illegal timber trade, with the EU Timber Regulation, US Lacey Act, Australian Illegal Logging Prohibition and Japan’s Goho system most prominent. Against this background, ETTF members decided they needed a current, easy-reference tool on legislation, primarily in tropical supplier countries where legality questions are most in focus. Hence the new Gateway site.
The goal is to support importing companies in their illegality risk assessment, due diligence and due care procedures under these stringent new legality rules. Its aim is also to create a level playing field in satisfying these requirements between small and large companies.
“To meet their requirements, importers must obtain documentary evidence that suppliers are operating in accordance with national laws and regulations,” said ETTF Secretary General André de Boer. “So it’s essential they can readily access current information on those laws, and especially how they’re being translated at practical level and procedures they require. With the Gateway they can.”
At the same time, it was decided to make the new site a versatile business tool, so users can source a range of useful data in one location. It includes up to date industry figures, business, industry organisation and government contacts, and links to further information. The Gateway is supported by the International Tropical Timber Organisation (ITTO) and Sustainable Tropical Timber Coalition (STTC) and the site was developed by Dutch forestry, plantation and certification consultancy Form international. It draws on ITTO, FAO, ITC/Tradecom and other databases and has an ‘extensive contact network of experts providing input and helping keep it up to date’.
A Review feedback facility enables visitors to comment and submit information for inclusion. Countries can also apply to be profiled. “It’s the first time timber sector information exchange has been organised and centralised on such a scale,” said Mr de Boer. “That should ultimately lead to greater supply chain transparency.”
At launch, the site offered an extended profile of Ghana and currently less detailed basic profiles of Ivory Coast, Indonesia and Guyana. By the year-end another 19, all expert reviewed, will be live and the ambition, pending support, is to grow from there. “As the data builds, it will become an ever more comprehensive, useful and practical timber trade resource,” said Mr de Boer, who presented on the Gateway at the last ITTO meeting in Japan. “We welcome initial comment, and ideas for further development.”